Defence announced yesterday (14 April) that it has cancelled Exercise Pitch Black, the RAAF’s largest domestic air combat exercise, for 2020.
ADM previously reported on 27 March that Defence was reviewing its options for the multi-lateral exercise, which was to have been held in the Northern Territory skies between July 24 and August 14. However, ongoing restrictions in place across Australia in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have influenced the decision to formally cancel the exercise for 2020.
“To ensure compliance with COVID-19-related Government restrictions and to protect our personnel, their families and the community, Exercise Pitch Black will not be conducted in 2020,” a Defence spokesperson said.
“In line with Whole-of-Government advice, Defence has implemented significant measures to ensure the health and safety of its personnel and the broader community. Defence is fully committed to adhering to the public health guidelines to minimise transmission of COVID-19 and is directly engaged with public health authorities to ensure we are taking measures to reduce transmission as early as possible.”
Pitch Black 2020 was expected to attract personnel and/or aircraft from a number of Australia’s regional neighbours and partners, including France, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand and the United States.
ADM understands that Defence is yet to decide whether to run the 2020 exercise in 2021 or to cancel it outright and run the next in the biennial sequence on schedule in mid-2022.