ADM understands that RAAF combat squadrons are planning to deploy to the NT in July for Exercise Pitch Black 2020, despite the current COVID-19 restrictions placed on travel.
The biennial Pitch Black exercise is the ADF’s largest multi-lateral air combat exercise which regularly attracts participants from many regional air forces. This year it is set to run between July 24 and August 14 and, according to the Defence PB20, participants include RAAF Hornets, Super Hornets and Growlers, French Air Force Rafales, Indonesian F-16s, US and Singaporean F-15s, Thai F-16s and Gripens and, making their debut at a Pitch Black exercise, Mitsubishi F-2 fighters from the Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF).
However, a Defence spokesperson said yesterday that the exercise was currently under further review. “Defence is adjusting a range of plans and commitments as it works to contribute to the Whole-of-Government response to the COVID-19,” the spokesperson said.
“In line with the advice of the Chief Medical Officer and Australian Government, Defence is currently reconsidering the status of its upcoming events, including Exercise Pitch Black to ensure the safety of personnel involved.”