The Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) biennial air combat training exercise, Pitch Black 2018, has concluded after three weeks of air operations in the Northern Territory, Australia.

More than 4,000 Australian and international personnel along with 140 aircraft belonging to Canada, France, Germany, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Philippines, Indonesia and the US amongst others took part in the exercise.

During Pitch Black 2018, RAAF’s E/A-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft and C-27J Spartan battlefield airlifter were debuted and a forward operating base was created at Batchelor Airfield.

These aircraft provided an opportunity for the defence teams to practice the delivery of forces in response to a peacekeeping or humanitarian mission.

“In all, more than 1,120 missions were performed during the exercise, which was held from 27 July to 17 August.”

The exercise also saw the first participation of the Indian Air Force with the C-130J Hercules and Su-30 Flanker aircraft, as well as the French Air Force, flying with Rafale fighter jets.

Air commodore Mike Kitcher said the objective of the exercise was to boost and promote regional partnerships and stability, as well as enhance interoperability.

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Kitcher said: “The strength of this year’s exercise is not just in its size, but in its variety, there’s not been a Pitch Black with the diversity we’ve witnessed in 2018.

“When this exercise began in 1981, it was a few hundred Australians and Americans conducting air defence training in the Northern Territory.”

“The diversity of Exercise Pitch Black 18, whether it’s the range of nations involved, the different roles practised, and even the participants themselves, all contribute to airforce being better prepared for future operations.”

Airforces conducted coordinated missions and flew a total of up to 80 aircraft simultaneously.

In all, more than 1,120 missions were performed during the exercise, which was held from 27 July to 17 August.

Pitch Black is scheduled to be conducted in the Northern Territory in mid-2020.