Continuing the series of military exercises with countries in the Indo-Pacific, the Indian Air Force (IAF) will join 16 other nations, including Quad partner countries, later this month for Exercise Pitch Black, the biennial exercise hosted by the Australian Air Force.
About 100 aircraft and 2,500 military personnel from 17 nations will arrive in the Northern Territory in two weeks to commence Exercise Pitch Black 2022, the Australian Ministry of Defence said in a statement.
“With a four-year hiatus since the last Pitch Black due to the global pandemic, this year’s exercise will see a return of the combined force to Australian skies, enhancing interoperability and strengthening relationships,” it added.
Commenting on this, Group Captain Peter Wood, PBK22 Director Engagement, said, “International participation in Ex Pitch Black, from within the Indo-Pacific region and further abroad, provides all nations’ personnel with experience in working with aircraft, systems and work practices, in northern Australia’s unique environment, that would otherwise be unfamiliar.”
The participants this year are Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Indonesia, India, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, UAE, the U.K. and the U.S.
“We’ll have nations operating out of RAAF Bases Darwin and Tindal primarily, supported by RAAF Base Amberley,” Group Captain Wood said.
For the first time, the IAF had deployed fighter aircraft for the exercise in 2018 which it had then stated would “provide a unique opportunity for exchange of knowledge and experience with these nations in a dynamic warfare environment”. The then contingent, consisting of 145 personnel, four Su-30MKI fighters, one C-130 and one C-17 transport aircraft, went to Australia via Indonesia and during the transit had constructive engagements with the Indonesian and Malaysian Air Forces as well.
The 2020 edition of the exercise was cancelled at the last minute due to the COVID-19 pandemic.