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Aussie Forces Test Strategic Rail Link (July12)

Army’s use of the newly completed Adelaide to Darwin rail link demonstrates the strategic value of the railway for the Australian Defence Force, Defence Minister Robert Hill said today.

Adelaide-based 16th Air Defence Regiment is moving more than 200 vehicles, Rapier, RBS-70 surface to air missile systems and some PSTAR Radars on 57 carriages (two trains over two days) to participate in Exercise Pitch Black in the Northern Territory.

The main body of about 300 personnel will travel by air, with a contingent accompanying the unit’s equipment on the train.

“The railway is an important addition to the national transport infrastructure network,” Senator Hill said.

“This use of the rail link provides Defence with another option to move quickly and efficiently. It also means soldiers spend less time away from their families and Defence vehicles spend less time on the roads.”

Exercise Pitch Black is the Royal Australian Air Force’s largest exercise for 2004. It provides participants with high complexity air combat training opportunities.

The Exercise involves aircraft and personnel from the Royal Thai Air Force, the Republic of Singapore Air Force, the French Air Force and some Australian Army Units including 16th Air Defence Regiment, which will be providing ground, based air defense.

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