The Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) F-35A Lightning II aircraft is set to participate in the multinational exercise Pitch Black 2022.

This marks the first time RAAF will deploy its F-35As, which will replace the F/A-18A/B Classic Hornet that took part in the last iterations of the exercise.

The RAAF’s fifth-generation aircraft from Nos. 3 and 75 Squadron will be deployed to demonstrate their capabilities in a multinational air combat environment.

RAAF No. 3 Squadron Commanding Officer wing commander Adrian Kiely said: “Exercise Pitch Black is the largest Australian-based international exercise 81 Wing has participated in since transitioning to the F-35A and we’re excited by the opportunity to integrate the jet’s advanced capabilities with so many of our international partners.

“Across the exercise, we aim to improve our collective air combat capabilities in a complex and contested environment.

“Our focus for Pitch Black is on strengthened international integration, which is paramount to further improving our ability to come together as a highly effective and interoperable force.”

The latest iteration of Pitch Black will be held from 19 August to 8 September in the Northern Territory and Queensland.

Around 17 nations are expected to participate in this year’s biennial large-force employment Australia-based exercise.

Participating nations include the UK, the US, France, India, Germany, Canada, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand.

This three-week exercise will primarily be conducted from the RAAF Base Darwin and RAAF Base Tindal, and may also include RAAF Base Amberley near Ipswich this year.

The exercise aims to demonstrate RAAF’s commitment to enhancing military relationships with allied and partner nations.