The Royal Australian Air Force has kicked off its capstone international maneuver Pitch Black over Australia’s Northern Territory with 100 aircraft from 17 nations taking part.
From August 19 to September 8, 16 nations will join Australian forces for maneuvers designed to enhance interoperability and develop strong relationships.
This year over 100 aircraft and 2500 personnel from Australia, France, Germany, Canada, Indonesia, India, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, United States, United Kingdom, Republic of Korea, New Caledonia, Philippines and Netherlands will take part.
For the first time in the history of the biennial maneuver, Germany, Japan and the Republic of Korea are expected to participate fully. Germany is attending the drill as part of its Rapid Pacific deployment, which the German Air Force chief, Lieutenant General Ingo Gerhartz, described as “the largest and most challenging deployment the German Air Force has ever seen.”
Exercise Commander Air Commodore (AIRCDRE) Tim Alsop said the return of exercise Pitch Black marked an excellent opportunity to strengthen partnerships and to promote regional stability.
“With 17 nations participating, exercise Pitch Black will allow the RAAF to work with our allies and partners, sharing tactics and procedures that will enhance interoperability between our forces.
“Several countries are participating in Pitch Black for the first time, and we welcome them to the exercise and the magnificent Northern Territory.”
“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,” AIRCDRE Alsop said.
“Air to air refuelling is a force multiplier, providing essential reach to our combat aircraft. Working with participating nations aims to increase our force projection and maximise our capability.”
“We would like to thank the Northern Territory community for their continued support and interest in Exercise Pitch Black and to welcome all the international participants to the Top End.”
The exercise will include day and night flying and the Australian defense ministry is working to minimize the impact on the local community and the environment.
The exercise will run in the Northern Territory with forces primarily based at RAAF Base Darwin and RAAF Base Tindal and supporting elements at RAAF Base Amberley.