The Indian Air Force on Friday joined the ‘Pitch Black’ exercise in Australia with four Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter jets and two C-17 heavy-lift aircrafts.
The 17-nation air combat exercise, being hosted by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), comes amid the ongoing Ukraine-Russia conflict and China’s recent military exercises in the Taiwan strait following US Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island.
WHAT IS EXERCISE PITCH BLACK
The biennial exercise is considered to be RAAF’s “capstone” international engagement activity with air forces from strategic partners and allies. The last ‘Pitch Black’ was conducted in 2018 and the 2020 edition of the exercise was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The exercise includes undertaking multi-domain air combat missions in a complex simulated environment and exchanging best practices with the participating air forces, for three weeks.
The RAAF said the exercise will include day and night flying and will be undertaken with consideration given to minimising the impact on the local community and the environment.
WHO IS PARTICIPATING
Over 100 aircrafts and 2,500 personnel from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Indonesia, India, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Republic of Korea, the UAE, Singapore, Thailand, the US and the UK are participating in the exercise.
“An Indian Air Force contingent has reached Australia for participating in exercise Pitch Black 2022 scheduled to be held from August 19 to September 8 in Darwin,” the Indian Air Force (IAF) said. “The IAF contingent, led by Group Captain YPS Negi, comprises over 100 air warriors, deployed with four Su-30 MKI fighter and two C-17 aircraft,” the IAF said in a statement.
WHAT IS THE OBJECTIVE
Pitch Black is an opportunity to strengthen international relations as well as exchange military practices. Exercise commander Air Commodore Tim Alsop said the return of Pitch Black marked an excellent opportunity to strengthen partnerships and promote regional stability. The RAAF said in a statement that the exercise recognises Australia’s strong relationships and the high value it placed on regional security and fostering close ties throughout the Indo-Pacific region.
“Pitch Black is a large force employment exercise, driven by fighter combat scenarios. This year, significant efforts have been made to advance the air-to-air refuelling capability between many of the participating nations,” Alsop was quoted in a RAAF release. “Air-to-air refuelling is a force multiplier, providing essential reach to our combat aircraft. Working with many of the participating nations aims to increase our force projection and maximise our capability,” he added.
Exercise Pitch Black started on August 19 and will conclude on September 8 in the Northern Territory and Queensland in Australia.
(With PTI inputs)