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US, allies kick off air warfare drills Down Under

Marine Cpl. Jesse Meyers gives a familiarization class to Australian airmen during the Pitch Black exercise at Royal Australian Air Force Base Tindal, Australia, July 28, 2016.

NICOLE ZURBRUGG/U.S. MARINE CORPS

By LEON COOK | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 27, 2018

Air Force and Marine Corps aviators, along with participants from 16 nations, are engaging in simulated combat above Australia’s Northern Territory during Exercise Pitch Black, which began Friday.

“Pitch Black is the Royal Australian Air Force’s largest and most important international air defense exercise with several regional, coalition and allied air forces taking part,” Air Vice Marshal Steven Roberton, commander of the operational arm of the RAAF, said in a statement.

The drills, which happen every two years, will be held at bases in Darwin and Tindal over three weeks and focus on offensive and defensive air operations, according to an RAAF website.

More than 140 aircraft and 4,000 military personnel are involved, including participants from Australia, Canada, France, Indonesia, Germany, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Sweden and, for the first time, India, a U.S. Air Force statement said.

Pitch Black began as an Australia-only exercise in the 1980s. Singapore was invited in 1990 and the exercise has grown to include other Australian friends and allies. It is scheduled to conclude on August 17.

cook.leon@stripes.com
Twitter: @LeonCook12

 

An Air Force F-16 sits on the flight line at Royal Australian Air Force Base Darwin, Australia, during a past Pitch Black drill, Aug. 4, 2016.
DAVID GIBBS/AUSTRALIAN DEFENCE FORCE

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