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17 Countries Will Participate in Multilateral “Exercise Pitch Black 2022”

UPDATE: An Indian Air Force contingent has reached Australia for participating in Exercise Pitch Black 2022 scheduled to be held from 19 Aug 22 to 08 Sep 22 in Darwin. This is a biennial, multi-national exercise hosted by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). It will focus on Large Force Employment warfare. The last edition was conducted in 2018. The 2020 edition of the exercise was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s exercise will see the participation of over 100 aircraft and 2500 military personnel from various air forces.

The IAF contingent, led by Group Captain YPS Negi, comprises over 100 air warriors, deployed with four Su-30 MKI fighter and two C-17 aircraft. They will undertake multi-domain air combat missions in a complex environment and will exchange best practices with the participating air forces.

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Australia on Monday announced the participation of 17 nations in Exercise Pitch Black 2022 (PBK22), after a hiatus of four-year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

About Exercise Pitch Black 2022

About 100 aircraft and 2500 military personnel from 17 nations will arrive in the Northern Territory in two weeks to commence Exercise Pitch Black 2022 (PBK22), said the Australian Government – Defence press release.

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.

Exercise Pitch Black will run from August 19 – September 8, 2022.

The Participants Of Exercise Pitch Black 2022

PBK22 is Air Force’s biennial capstone international engagement activity with key strategic partners.
This year’s participants include Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Indonesia, India, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, UAE, the UK, and the US.

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Significantly, Germany, Japan, and the Republic of Korea will be participating fully for the first time.
PBK22 Director Engagement Group Captain Peter Wood said he was pleased to see a return to Pitch Black after the extended break, added the release.

“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,” Group Captain Wood said.
“Exercising with our international partners in combined air combat operations is pivotal to ensuring Air Force remains ready to respond whenever the Australian Government requires,” added Wood.

The exercise is a biennial three-week multi-national large force employment exercise conducted primarily from RAAF Base Darwin and RAAF Base Tindal. RAAF Base Amberley, located near Ipswich will also be included in the exercise this year.

IAF to participate in multilateral exercise ‘Pitch Black’ in Australia

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.

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Indian Air Force to participate in the Exercise Pitch Black being organised by Australian Air Force with its Su-30MKI combat aircraft (in file pic) along with its transport aircraft

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The Training Of Exercise Pitch Black 2022

“The training and integration of forces that occurs during this exercise directly supports Air Force’s ability to conduct operations,” said Group Captain Wood.

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“We’ll have nations operating out of RAAF Bases Darwin and Tindal primarily, supported by RAAF Base Amberley,” he added.

Exercise Pitch Black 2022 is the Royal Australian Air Force’s most significant International Engagement activity with forces participating from a wide range of partner and allied nations developing and enhancing military relationships at all levels.

“We are very much looking forward to working with our international partners once again for Exercise Pitch Black,” said Wood.

Exercise Pitch Black features a range of realistic, simulated threats which can be found in a modern battle-space environment and is an opportunity to test and improve our force integration, utilising one of the largest training airspace areas in the world — Bradshaw Field Training Area and Delamere Air Weapons Range.

Activities such as Exercise Pitch Black recognize Australia’s strong relationships and the high value on regional security and fostering closer ties throughout the Indo- Pacific region.

The exercise will also support a concurrent International Observer Group program in order to provide an opportunity for foreign forces to gain an appreciation of how Australia prepares for and executes major activities.

The exercise will include day and night flying. There will not be any overarching scenario for the exercise. Each mission will be executed as a stand-alone serial with distinct training objectives.

History Of Exercise Pitch Black

The biennial Pitch Black exercise started as a bilateral air combat exercise in the mid-1980s between Australia and Singapore, and was named for the dark nights found over Australia’s sparsely populated north.

It has since evolved into a full-spectrum, complex air warfare exercise that includes large force employment of coalition air power, air-land integration activities and remote airfield operations.

In 2008, 3000 personnel and 60 aircraft participated in the exercise. But in 2012, the number came down to 2,200 personnel along with 100 aircraft belonging to Australia, Singapore, Thailand, the US, Indonesia and New Zealand. It was the first time for Indonesia to participate in the exercise with 4 Sukhois.

For the 2016 edition over 100 participating aircraft showed up from Australia, USA, Thailand (F-16s), Singapore (F-15s and F-16s) and Indonesia (F-16s). In 2018 the Indian Air Force is also participating.

In 2018, Australian Defence Minister Christopher Pyne while speaking at New Delhi’s National Defence College confirmed the participation of Indian Air Force in the exercise.

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.

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