Question on Notice No. 1326 - Exercise Pitch Black
Senator Ludlam asked the Minister for Defence on, 17 November 2014:
Were United States B-52 bombers involved in this year's Exercise Black Pitch in the Northern Territory; if so:
(a) how many;
(b) what was the purpose of their involvement;
(c) were the bombers nuclear-capable;
(d) were they nuclear-armed;
(e) were the bombers involved in simulated nuclear attacks;
(f) was their involvement consistent with Australia's obligations under the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty; and
(g) were such bombers involved in past Black Pitch exercises.
Senator Johnston: The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
(a) The US Air Force flew eight B-52 sorties in support of Exercise Pitch Black 2014, two single-aircraft missions and three double-aircraft missions.
(b) The aircraft were conducting routine training missions.
(c) The B-52 is a nuclear capable platform.
(d) It is United States policy to neither confirm nor deny the presence or absence of nuclear weapons at any general or specific location – this is a policy the Australian Government both understands and respects. It is not generally United States’ practice to carry nuclear weapons on training flights.