US Leads Massive 17-Nation War Exercise in Australia

August 26th, 2022 - by Kyle Anzalone / Libertarian Institute & Mike Yeo / Defense News

Pitch Black 2022: American F-35s
Take Part in 17-Nation War Games

Kyle Anzalone / Libertarian Institute

(August 25, 2022) — Washington and several of its close partners kicked off massive aerial military exercises in Australia. F-35s from the US and Brittan will join advanced warplanes from India, Japan, South Korea, France and several other countries.

A NATO press release on the war games, dubbed Pitch Black 2022, says the drills will involve about 100 aircraft and 2500 military personnel from 17 nations in Australia’s Northern Territory. The exercises last took place in 2018. The Pitch Black 2020 was canceled due to the pandemic.

The war games began last Friday as tensions in the Indo-Pacific continue to soar. The Pitch Black drills will involve all four members of The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or ‘The Quad.’

The Quad is an anti-China cooperation forum for the US, India, Japan and South Korea. America’s NATO partners Germany, France and the UK are taking part. A recent NATO security document said China poses a “systemic challenge to Euro-Atlantic security.

NATO members have increasingly taken a hostile position towards Beijing. Over the past few years, several European counties have joined the US in conducting freedom of navigation operations and Taiwan Strait transits. China views Taiwan and the South China Sea as its territory.

Canada, France, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and the UAE are also participating. Germany, Japan and the Republic of Korea are participating fully for the first time. The war games last until September 18th.

Washington has conducted a series of war games in the Pacific recently. In Hawaii, South Korea and Tokyo joined American forces in missile detection exercises. On Monday, the US started large-scale war games with South Korea.

Still, some in Washington are demanding more military operations in the region. Representative Gregory Meeks called for more war games between the US and Japan. “Greater military-to-military cooperation, including joint exercises, should certainly be part of the equation,” he said, reflecting the view that deepening the US and Japanese ties will act as a deterrent against China.”

Kyle Anzalone is news editor of the Libertarian Institute, assistant editor of and co-host of Conflicts of Interest with Will Porter.

Japan, South Korea Warplanes Debut
Alongside US F-35s at Joint-Military-Exercise

Mike Yeo / Defense News

MELBOURNE, Australia (August 25, 2022) — Fighter jets from Japan and South Korea are making their debut at a large-scale air combat exercise in northern Australia, along with F-35 fifth-generation stealth fighters from the host nation and the United States.

The aircraft and personnel from the US allies will take part in the biennial Exercise Pitch Black alongside that from 15 other nations, making up a force of over 100 aircraft and 2,500 personnel at what the Royal Australian Air Force or RAAF calls its “premier multinational air combat exercise.”

The Japan Air Self Defense Force is taking part with five Mitsubishi F-2s from the service’s 3rd Hikotai normally based at Hyakuri, north of Japan’s capital Tokyo, while South Korea’s Republic of Korea Air Force, or ROKAF, has deployed eight Lockheed-Martin KF-16 Fighting Falcons from the 20th and 38th Fighter Groups based at Seosan and Gunsan, respectively.

Also making its debut at the exercise is the Lockheed-Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. The host air force is flying the conventional take off and landing F-35A variant, while the Marines are flying 12 F-35B Short Take Off and Vertical Landing aircraft drawn from both its Japan-based squadrons.

They will join Germany’s Luftwaffe in taking part at Pitch Black for the first time. The European country has sent six Eurofighters to the IndoPacific in the first deployment of its kind.

Pitch Black 2022 officially kicked off last Friday and will run to September 8 over the large expanses of unrestricted airspace of Australia’s Northern Territory and will involve large force employment of coalition air power in various scenarios.

The other nations who have sent aircraft to the exercise include France, India, Indonesia, Singapore, and the United Kingdom, with most aircraft operating out of the RAAF bases of Darwin and Tindal.

These include the largest contingent of tankers from the widest number of operators to be seen at a Pitch Black event, with Airbus A330 multi-role tanker transports from Australia, France, NATO, Singapore, South Korea and the United Kingdom performing air-to-air refueling

“Air to air refueling is a force multiplier, providing essential reach to our combat aircraft. Working with many of the participating nations aims to increase our force projection and maximize our capability,” said Exercise Commander Air Commodore Tim Alsop of the RAAF.

He added that the return of Exercise Pitch Black after a break of four years due to the pandemic marked an excellent opportunity to strengthen partnerships and to promote regional stability.

“With 16 nations participating, Exercise Pitch Black is an excellent opportunity for RAAF to work with our allies and partners, sharing tactics and procedures that will enhance interoperability between our forces.”

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