In a three-week ‘Pitch Black’ exercise aimed at practising Offensive Counter Air (OCA) and Defensive Counter Air (DCA) combat in a simulated scenario, the Indian Air Force (IAF) deployed its four Sukhoi- 30 MKI fighter jets and two C-17 heavy-lift aircraft being conducted in the northern territory of Australia.
The Exercise Pitch Black is being operated by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) F-35A Lightning II aircraft at RAAF Base Darwin (and supposedly in RAAF Base Tindal and RAAF Base Amberley) amid the on-going conflict between Russia and Ukraine & China’s air incursions into Taiwan’s buffer zone following the US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei.
India is joining a list of 17 nations, namely Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Republic of Korea, the UAE, Singapore, Thailand, the US and the UK.
“An Indian Air Force contingent has reached Australia for participating in exercise Pitch Black 2022 scheduled happening from August 19 to September 8 in Darwin,” according to a statement released by the Indian Air Force.
The statement also highlighted that – “The IAF contingent, led by Group Captain YPS Negi, comprises over 100 air warriors, deployed with four Su-30 MKI fighters and two C-17 aircraft.”
The 2020 edition of the ‘Pitch Black’ exercise was postponed in the wake of COVID-pandemic. The last one was conducted in the year 2018.
Meanwhile, welcoming the happening of operational drill after a gap of four years, Commander of Air Combat Group, Air Commodore Tim Alsop stated, “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.”
He added further- “Air-to-air refuelling is a force multiplier, providing essential reach to our combat aircraft. Working with many of the participating nations aims to increase our force projection and maximise our capability.”
The RAAF’s fifth-generation aircraft from squadron no. 3 and number 75 will be deployed to display their capacity in a multi-national air combat setting.