French tanker refuels IAF SU-30MKIs heading into 'Pitch Black'
The 17-nation biennial Exercise 'Pitch Black', which is being hosted by the Australian Air Force in the Northern Territory, will commence from August 19. The exercise is being conducted for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic. The last edition of the exercise was held in 2018.
Ahead of touching down in Australia's Darwin to participate in 17-nation wargame 'Pitch Black', Indian Air Force fighter jets Sukhoi 30MKI were refuelled by a French Air Force A330 Phenix. The French air refueller has also been deployed for the same exercise.
"This is the first time that France has refuelled Indian jets in flight during their projection," French Air Force posted on Twitter. It must be mentioned that the Indian Air Force has deployed four Russian-origin Sukhoi 30MKI fighter aircraft and a C-17 transport aircraft.
The aircraft flew directly to Australia after participating in a four-day bilateral exercise 'Udarashakti' with the Malaysian counterparts at Kuantan.
The 17-nation biennial Exercise 'Pitch Black', which is being hosted by the Australian Air Force in the Northern Territory, will commence on August 19. The exercise is being conducted for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic. The last edition of the exercise was held in 2018.
In a statement, Pitch Black Exercise 2022 Director Engagement Group Captain Peter Wood said: "International participation in Exercise Pitch Black, from within the Indo-Pacific region and further abroad, provides all nations' personnel with experience in working with aircraft, systems and work practices, in northern Australia's unique environment, that would otherwise be unfamiliar."
Group Captain Wood said: "Exercising with our international partners in combined air combat operations is pivotal to ensuring the Air Force remains ready to respond whenever the Australian Government requires."
In the exercise, countries like Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Indonesia, India, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, UAE, the UK and the US are participating this time.
It should be mentioned that the air forces of Germany, Japan and Republic of Korea are participating fully for the first time. India is participating in the exercise for the second time. About 100 aircraft and 2500 personnel are expected to participate in the three-week-long exercise.