Exercise Pitch Black is the Royal Australian Air Force’s largest multi-national exercise that takes place every other year. The 2022 edition will see up to 100 aircraft and around 2500 personnel from 17 nations training together for three weeks.
The large force employment of fighter and support aircraft will be conducted primarily from the Royal Australian Air Force bases at Darwin and Tindal in the Australian Northern Territory.
Royal Air Force Typhoon fighter jets and a Voyager air-to-air-refueling tanker are taking part in this major Australian air exercise for the first time. The RAF Typhoons from 6 Squadron flew from RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus, and were air-to-air refueled en route by an RAF Voyager tanker which also carried support aviators and equipment. The 8600 nautical mile journey, which included overnight stops in the United Arab Emirates, India, and Singapore, was also supported by an Atlas transport aircraft.
Exercise Pitch Black offers an impressive 50,000 square miles (129,000 square km) training area, alongside a variety of different aircraft, with support from air-to-air refueling tankers. According to Wing Commander Rees, Officer Commanding 6 Squadron, “exercising at this scale and complexity is simply not possible in Europe.”
The international military exercise has now entered its second phase of complex joint training. Throughout the exercise, RAF’s Voyager will not only refuel the Typhoon fighter jets, but it’s also responsible for refueling other jets from different air forces participating in the training.
When the Australian military exercise is over after September 18, the RAF contingent will be returning to the UK via India, where during a short stopover, it is planned to conduct a brief period of Bilateral training with the Indian Air Force.