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Exercise Pitch Black 2018: IAF contingent returns to India after completing month-long warfare exercise

The exercise, comprising of 145 air-warriors, was hosted by Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) from July 24 to August 18 in Darwin, Australia. 

Exercise Pitch Black 2018: IAF contingent returns to India after completing month-long warfare exercise

An Indian Air Force (IAF) contingent returned on Thursday after completing Exercise Pitch Black 2018, a month-long biennial multi-national large force employment warfare exercise, according to an IAF post on social media. The exercise, comprising of 145 air-warriors, was hosted by Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) from July 24 to August 18 in Darwin, Australia. The air warriors included IAF Commandos team, Garuds, 04 X Su-30 MKI, 01 X C-130 and 01 X C-17 for logistic support for induction and de-induction. 

After successful participation, IAF contingent de-inducted from Australia and in the return leg carried out a bilateral exercise with Royal Malaysian Air Force from August 20 to August 22 at Subang Air Base, Malaysia.

High serviceability of assets and professionalism of the IAF personnel during the exercise with air forces of 16 nations won accolades and appreciation from all the participants, said a Ministry statement. 

According to a statement by the Ministry of Defence, IAF had earlier participated in the exercise as observers and this was for the first time that IAF participated with air assets in the exercise. With participation of 16 nations and more than 140 aircraft, the current edition was the largest Pitch Black ever conducted by Australia.

The objectives for the exercise were to foster closer relationship between the participating friendly forces and to promote interoperability through exchange of knowledge and experience, added the statement. The aim for participating crew and specialist observers was to expose them to op environment in international scenarios. 

he exercise comprised of 2 phases, first being the Force Integration week. During the Force Integration week, the forces flew basic missions with an aim to get to same working platform. Subsequently the missions involved larger packages & we undertook simulated air combat exercises in near realistic environment and exchanged best practices towards enhancing our operational capability, according to the statement.

Various day and night operations were undertaken by the IAF and for the first time. SU-30MKI carried out Air to Air Refueling with KC-30A of RAAF, read the statement. The KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transport is a modified Airbus A330 airliner that is used by RAAF to conduct air-to-air refueling and provide strategic airlift. Some highlights of the exercise included exchange sorties flown by IAF pilots flying in Rafale & RAAF F/A-18 (Hornets) and RAAF crew & French Crew flying in SU-30MKI.

IAF C-130J crew got a unique opportunity to fly in RAAF C130J aircraft. C-130J also carried out assault landing at Dalmare, Assault Operations of dropping specialist vehicles in Op area and participation in Large Force Engagement missions, both by day and night. Certain maiden operations undertaken by the IAF during the exercise included IAF Commandos, Garuds and Para Jump Instructors jumping from C-27J Spartan in a foreign country, Container Delivery System (CDS) drop by C-130 J, Engine Running Ops (ERO) for dropping Ops Specialist Vehicles in Combat Zone, according to the statement. During the exercise, IAF maintenance crew ensured 100% serviceability of all the assets, thus ensuring complete participation of the forces in the exercise.

The exercise provided a unique opportunity for exchange of knowledge and experience with the participating nations in a dynamic warfare environment. The IAF contingent interacted with various countries, gained first-hand experience of training patterns, employment and operating philosophies of their combat assets, read the statement.

Participation in a multinational air exercise assumes importance in view of the continued engagement of the IAF with friendly foreign countries. Over the last decade, IAF has been actively participating in operational exercises hosted by various countries, wherein collaborative engagements have been undertaken with the best air forces in the world. It was a unique, fascinating, desirable and timeless learning at the exercise for the IAF contingent. 

The professionalism and work ethos of IAF Pilots, technicians, Airmen and all participating Air-Warriors earned praises from all quarters. The Operational lessons learnt by IAF during the exercise will assist IAF in adding more teeth to its overall war waging capabilities and assist us in better joint man ship with the friendly Nations. IAF has de-inducted from Darwin, Australia and has reached Malaysia on its return journey to India.