The Indian Air Force for the first time is participating with fighter aircraft in Exercise Pitch Black 2018 (PB-18), which is scheduled from 24 Jul 18 to 18 Aug 18 in Australia. Ex Pitch Black is a biennial multi-national large force employment warfare exercise hosted by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). The IAF contingent consists of 145 air-warriors including Garud team, 04 X Su-30 MKI, 01 X C-130 and 01 X C-17. The contingent will assemble at Air Force Station Kalaikunda and depart for the exercise on 19 Jul 18 from India to Australia via Indonesia.
IAF Mig-21 Incident: On 18th July 2018, an Indian Air Force MiG-21 aircraft, crashed at 1321 h in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh. Squadron Leader Meet Kumar, a Fully Operational pilot had got airborne from Air Force Station Pathankot at 1220 h. The pilot sustained fatal injuries during the accident. A Court of Inquiry has been ordered to establish the cause of the accident: Ministry of Defence.
The contingent is being led by Group Captain CUV Rao VM and would aim to undertake simulated air combat exercises in a controlled environment and mutual exchange of best practices towards enhancing IAF operational capability. During the flight from India to Australia and back, Su-30 MKI will carry out air to air refueling with IL-78 tankers. After completion of the exercise, on its return leg from Darwin to Subang, Su-30 MKI will be refueled in air for the first time by RAAF KC-30A. In Australia, the IAF will participate in the mega exercise, which will involve over 100 aircraft from around the globe.
The exercise will provide unique opportunity for exchange of knowledge and experience with these nations in a dynamic warfare environment. Participation in multinational air exercise assumes importance in view of the continued engagement of the IAF with friendly foreign countries. Over the last decade, IAF has been actively participating in operational exercises hosted by various countries, wherein collaborative engagements undertaken with the best air forces in the world. During the transit to Australia, IAF contingent will also have constructive engagement with Indonesian and Malaysian Air Forces.