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IAF’s Sukhoi fighter jets set to roar Australian skies during Exercise Pitch Black

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Darwin, July 11:  India’s Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter jets will be seen in action during Exercise Pitch Black — Australia’s biggest international air combat training activity — that begins at the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) bases in Darwin and Tindal from Friday.

With approximately 140 aircraft and over 4000 personnel from 20 nations participating, this year’s iteration of Exercise Pitch Black is the largest participation in its 43-year history, the RAAF announced on Thursday.

Held every two years, the exercise focuses on large-force employment missions involving large numbers of international aircraft. The last edition of the exercise held in 2022 saw the participation of an Indian Air Force contingent that included four Su-30 MKI and two C-17 aircraft.

The IAF contingent for this edition comprises of over 150 highly skilled air warriors including pilots, engineers, technicians, controllers and other subject matter experts, who will be operating the formidable Su-30 MKI multirole fighters, with the C-17 Globemaster and the IL-78 Air-to-Air Refuelling aircraft in combat enabling roles.

“The exercise provides an excellent opportunity for strengthening the ability of the participating nations to deploy over large distances, support integrated operations in the Indo-Pacific region and building strong aviation associations in a highly challenging environment,” India’s Ministry of Defence said on Thursday.

The exercise will be focusing on Large Force Employment warfare aimed at strengthening international cooperation and shall facilitate experience enhancement with the IAF Su-30 MKI operating alongside the F-35, F-22, F-18, F-15, Gripen and Typhoon fighter aircraft.

For the first time, aircraft and personnel from the Philippines, Spain, Italy, and Papua New Guinea and embedded personnel from Fiji and Brunei will participate in the exercise. In addition, aircraft from France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, the United Kingdom, United States; and embedded personnel from Canada and New Zealand will also participate.

Aircraft will operate from the RAAF bases Darwin and Tindal in the Northern Territory, with additional tanker and transport aircraft at RAAF Base Amberley in Queensland. “Exercise Pitch Black is our premier activity for international engagement, held every two years to build stronger ties with like-minded nations.

Training with our partner nations throughout Exercise Pitch Black demonstrates our commitment to the shared value of sustaining peace and stability across the region,” said Exercise Director Air Commodore Peter Robinson. According to the RAAF, the exercise exposes participants to complex scenarios whilst utilising some of the most advanced aircraft and battlespace systems, in one of the biggest areas of military training airspace in the world.

“For international participants, there is a significant benefit to participating in Exercise Pitch Black 24. It provides experience in how to deploy over great distances, with some countries travelling from around the globe to reach Australia,” said the Australian Defence Ministry. IANS

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