Exercise Pitch Black is a large power contracting battle exercise hosted by the Royal Australian Air Force. It draws over 100 aircraft from around the globe and will supply unique favourable circumstances to the air-warriors to perform in an aggressive hostile atmosphere. Scheduled from July 24th to August 17th in Australia, Pitch Black is a biennial three week exercise conducted from Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) bases in Darwin and Tindal in Australia’s Northern Territory. Members comprises from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Indonesia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and the United States.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) representatives constitutes of four Su-30 MKI fighter jets, an Ilyushin Il-78 tanker, one Lockheed Martin C-130 and one Boeing C-17 transporter aircraft. This is the first time that the Indian Air Force is participating in a multinational air exercise in Australia with Royal Australian Air Force. It would be led by Group Captain CUV Rao with the intent to commence imitated air combat exercises in a controlled environment and mutual exchange of best practices towards enhancing IAF’s operational ability to perform. It also marks the first time India’s Su-30 aircraft have crossed south of the equator.
The training encompasses night flying and aerial refuelling and implements diverse nations a chance to apprentice information from each other and improve their force unification using one of the largest training airspace areas in the world.
The biennial Pitch Black exercise began in 1990 between Australia and Singapore, and features a range of realistic, simulated threats which can be found in a modern battle-space environment, the Royal Australian Air Force said in a statement on its website.
“Activities such as Exercise Pitch Black recognise the strong relationship Australia has with its participant nations and the high value it places on regional security and fostering closer ties throughout the Asia Pacific region,” the Royal Australian Air Force said.
“The exercise will provide a unique opportunity for exchange of knowledge and experience with these nations in a dynamic warfare environment. Participation in multinational air exercise assumes importance in view of the continued engagement of the IAF with friendly foreign countries,” it said.
“During the transit to Australia, the IAF contingent will also have constructive engagement with Indonesian and Malaysian air forces,” it added.
As a part of Commonwealth countries, India and Australia have always enjoyed harmonious mutual relations. Air Forces of both the countries have participated in the Second World War. The contribution of these nations has been well recorded and widely recognized by numerous historians.
After the success of two multilateral air combat exercises over the last three years: the Red Flag exercise held in the United States in April-May 2016 and the Blue Flag air combat drill in Israel in November 2017 and recently concluded Exercise Gaganshakti – 2018, IAF engagement with Indonesian and Malaysian Air Forces and participation in the Exercise Pitch Black-18 in Australia, IAF will once again showcase its capability to be an effective net security provider in the region. Navigating across the ocean, precise air to air engagement with tanker aircraft and ability to operate over the international airspace reaffirms that the Indian Air Force would always play the cutting edge of our nation’s military capability.
Earlier, the IAF participated in the biggest flypast in Exercise Pitch Black’s history. The IAF 4xSu-30MKI (Flankers) teamed up with Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF’s) 4xF-18F (Super Hornets) to mesmerise viewers on Mindil Beach, Darwin, during a 90-minute air display.
The IAFs participation in the Pitch Black air combat drill, however, is diplomatically meaningful given that New Delhi once again offered to take part earlier this year. India is ruminated to have rebuffed Australia’s concurrence somewhat over concerns that the Royal Australian Navy’s parternship will give the exercise too much of an apparent anti-Chinese indent and may perniciously tremor the Indo-Sino alliance.
Australia, India, Japan, and the United States have also re-established the so-called Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD), an inter-governmental security forum, in November 2017, which aims to enable closer cooperation among its members to ensure a “free and open Indo-Pacific.” The QSD ceased its activity in 2007 following Australia’s withdrawal from it.
Operation Pitch Black, one of the biggest exercises of its kinds, ended on 17th Aug 2018. More than 140 aircraft and 4000 personnel from several countries participated in the Operation Pitch Black in Australia.