NEW DELHI: For the first time, the Indian Air Force will be participating in Exercise Pitch Black 2018 (PB-18), a three-week multinational drill scheduled from July 24 in Australia, an official statement said on Wednesday.
The IAF contingent will consist of 145 air-warriors including a Garud commando team, four Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter planes and a C-130 and a C-17 transport aircraft in the exercise which will end on August 18, the air force statement said.
Ex Pitch Black is a biennial large force employment warfare exercise hosted by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).
The contingent will assemble at Air Force Station, Kalaikunda in West Bengal and leave for the exercise on Thursday via Indonesia, the statement said.
It would be led by Group Captain CUV Rao and would aim to undertake simulated air combat exercises in a controlled environment and mutual exchange of best practices towards enhancing IAF's operational capability.
During the flight from India to Australia and back, Sukhoi-30 MKI jets will carry out air-to-air refuelling with IL-78 tanker aircraft.
On its return leg from Darwin to Subang, Su-30 MKI aircraft will be refuelled in the air for the first time by a RAAF's KC-30A tanker plane.
The mega exercise will involve over 100 aircraft from around the globe, the IAF said.
"The exercise will provide a unique opportunity for exchange of knowledge and experience with these nations in a dynamic warfare environment. Participation in multinational air exercise assumes importance in view of the continued engagement of the IAF with friendly foreign countries," it said.
"During the transit to Australia, the IAF contingent will also have constructive engagement with Indonesian and Malaysian air forces," it added.