LONDON – With the Royal Australian Air Force hosted ‘Exercise Pitch Black’ commencing, Royal Air Force jets along with Voyager Air-to-Air refuelling tanker arrived in Australia this week to participate in the major training exercise and demonstrate advanced air combat skills.
Exercise Pitch Black will be attended by over 100 aircraft along with 2500 personnel from 17 countries, and will train together for the coming three weeks. This exercise is held biennially and represents a ‘large force employment exercise’ which is conducted primarily from the Royal Australian Air Force base at Darwin and Tindal of Australia’s Northern Territory.
Speaking on the arrival of the RAF contingent, UK Wing Commander Ress, the officer commanding 6th Squadron said: “The relationship between the RAF and Royal Australian Air Force is a close and enduring one and we’re delighted to be invited to participate in what promises to be a very realistic and challenging exercise.”
“The high-end training and complex exercise environment offered by Pitch Black combined with the opportunity to share best practise with so many other partners and allies is invaluable. Our presence here is also a further demonstration of the UK’s longstanding commitment to deepening cooperation and engagement in the Indo-Pacific.”
Over coming three weeks of exercise, the RAF contingent will be joining European NATO allies from France and Germany along with regional powers such as Japan, The Republic of Korea and Singapore and the host nation Australia.
As part of the base transfer for the upcoming ‘Exercise Pitch Black’ the Royal Air Force’s Typhoon from 6th Squadron flew over 8600 miles from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus to RAAF Base Darwin Air-to-Air refuelling and logistics support provided by the RAF Voyager air tanker.
The mission included overnight stops in United Arab Emirates, India and Singapore, with Airbus A400M Atlas Transport Aircraft complimenting the journey with its strategic capabilities.
Speaking on this unique journey of 8600 miles, Squadron Leader Brown, Commander of Voyager Detachment, expressed that “Enabling the deployment of four Typhoons half way around the world is a great example of the essential air mobility role Voyager delivers in the projection of RAF air power.”
“The challenge of ensuring a smooth and safe global transit has proven excellent training which will continue once the exercise commences.”
‘Exercise Pitch Black’
‘Exercise Pitch Black’ the Offensive Counter Air (OCA) and Defensive Counter Air (DCA) combat warfare exercise launched and hosted by Royal Australian Air Force was first incepted in 1981 with various RAAF units participating in the programme.
But from 1990 onwards, various Asian powers along with RAF and USAF started participating the exercise. Other nations who could not be a part of the exercise were invited in the observational capacity to understand and acknowledge the concept of ‘Offensive Counter Air and Defensive Counter Air combat warfare’.
This year, the host nation Australia and Royal Australian Air Force has welcomed over 17 nations, including Canada, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, the United States, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom.
This year’s ‘Exercise Pitch Black’ is being held in Darwin and Tindal between 19August till 6th September.
Speaking on this occasion, Royal Australian Air Force Director of Engagement, Group Captain Wood said that “International participation in Exercise 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.”