PAF participating in ‘Pitch Black’ exercise in Australia

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Philippine Air Force (PAF) personnel arrive in Darwin, Australia on July 7, 2024 for the "Pitch Black" 2024 exercise. (Photo by PAF)

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) is joining the prestigious “Pitch Black” 2024 (PB24) military exercise in Darwin, Australia from July 12 to Aug. 2.

The first batch of PAF contingent arrived in Darwin, the capital of Australia’s Northern Territory, on Sunday, July 7, according to PAF spokesperson Col. Ma. Consuelo Castillo.

They were ferried from the Philippines to Australia via the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) KC-30 aircraft.

“The main contingent will fly to Darwin a few days from now, prior to the official start of the exercise,” Castillo said.

Meanwhile, crucial equipment and operational cargo of the PAF were transported by the RAAF C-130 and PAF C-295 aircraft to ensure the seamless arrival of all necessary assets for the exercise.

“A notable highlight of this year’s exercise is the participation of PAF FA-50 fighter jet elements. This marks the first time the Philippines will deploy air assets to participate in an international exercise outside of the country, making it a monumental event in the history of the Philippine Air Force,” Castillo said.

The three-week exercise will be hosted by the RAAF. It will incorporate a wide range of tactical flying and large-scale operational collective training activities.

“The exercise will emphasize offensive counter air and air interdiction operations in a multi-national coalition environment,” Castillo said.

Held every two years, Pitch Black exercise “focuses on large force employment missions involving large numbers of international aircraft,” according to RAAF.

It said that this year’s exercise will be the largest in its 43-year history, bringing together 20 participating nations, including the Philippines, 4,435 personnel, and over 140 aircraft from around the world.

This year’s exercise will be conducted primarily from RAAF Base Darwin and RAAF Base Tindal in the Northern Territory; with additional aircraft operating from RAAF Base Amberley, located near Ipswich in Queensland, the RAAF said.

Exercise Pitch Black is RAAF’s “most significant flying activity for strengthening international engagement and enhancing our ability to work with overseas partners.”

“The exercise ensures Air Force is responsive whenever the Australian Government requires. It allows Australia to contribute to the sovereign security of participating nations, ensuring they too are ready to respond to contingency operations,” RAAF said.