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Exercise Pitch Black kicks off in the Northern Territory

Exercise Pitch Black kicks off in the Northern Territory

Over 100 aircraft and 2,500 personnel from 17 different nations are taking part in the exercise, designed to enhance interoperability and defence relationships between the participating nations.

Over 100 aircraft and 2,500 personnel from 17 different nations are taking part in the exercise, designed to enhance interoperability and defence relationships between the participating nations.

Those nations taking part include Australia, France, Germany, Canada, Indonesia, India, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, the United States, the United Kingdom, Republic of Korea, New Caledonia, the Philippines and the Netherlands.

The exercise is scheduled to run from the 19th of August to the 8th of September.

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According to Exercise Commander Air Commodore Tim Alsop, Pitch Black will help promote ongoing stability in the region.

“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,” AIRCDRE Alsop said.

“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 scheduled to include day and night flying, run from RAAF Base Darwin and RAAF Base Tindal, with some supporting elements located at RAAF Base Amberley.

“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.”

It was revealed that Exercise Pitch Black marks the first occasion that the German Luftwaffe and Royal Australian Air Force have undertaken joint training, with the German government deploying six Eurofighter Typhoons, three A330 multi-role tanker transports and an A400M transport Aircraft to the Pacific for the exercise.

“We want to demonstrate that we can be in Asia within a day,” Chief of the German Air Force Lieutenant General Ingo Gerhartz said to Defense News.

The German Air Forces social media encouraged people to track the 24h-Luftwaffe-challenge.

“The Indo-Pacific is of great importance to Germany. We share the same values with many partners in this region,” LTGEN Gerhartz continued.

“Defending those values in case of a war emergency and being able to support our partners is something that needs to be practised.”

According to Defence, Germany is tasked with overseeing NATO’s airspace, hosting quick reaction forces in Estonia and working alongside Italy and the UK in Romania.

It is hoped that Exercise Pitch Black will enable the Luftwaffe to integrate with Australia’s F-35A capabilities.

“The F-35 aircraft will further expand the broad spectrum of our capabilities. Since the Royal Australian Air Force is already flying this combat aircraft, we will be able to learn from them as well,” LTGEN Gerhartz said.

While the Eurofighter is a multi-role aircraft, the German government has confirmed that it will also acquire F-35 systems to replace their aging Tornado capabilities.

Not only is Exercise Pitch Black the first occasion that Australian and German air forces will train together, but it also marks the first time Australia’s F-35A Lightning II aircraft have taken part in the biennial exercise.

“Exercise Pitch Black is the largest Australian-based international exercise 81 Wing has participated in since transitioning to the F-35A and we’re excited by the opportunity to integrate the jet’s advanced capabilities with so many of our international partners,” Commanding Officer of No. 3 Squadron, Wing Commander Adrian Kiely said.

[Related: RAAF F-35As to light up Exercise Pitch Black]

 

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