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Fighter Jets From France And Germany Are In Indo-Pacific Region For Pitch Black 2022 Exercise

Story Highlights
  • The general of the German Air Force said again that the exercise won't be a "threat" to China and will "barely touch" the South China Sea or the Taiwan Strait.
  • "The South China Sea, Taiwan - these are obviously the sticking points in the region," German Air Force generalleutnant said.

France and Germany have sent fighter jets to take part in “Pitch Black 2022,” a multinational exercise that happens every two years in the Indo-Pacific region and is hosted by the Royal Australian Air Force. The Indian Air Force is also there, making it one of the largest peace deployments. In Australia’s Northern Territory, the air forces of the UK, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea will train with the European Air Forces. The activities started on August 19 and will go on until September 9.

“We want to demonstrate that we can be in Asia within a day,” the chief of the German Air Force, Lieutenant General Ingo Gerhartz told Defense news.

The 13 German fighter planes will train together in Australia, even though tensions with China are at an all-time high. Nearly 100 fighter jets and 2,500 people from 17 countries will take part in “Pitch Black.” During the exercise, the UK’s Royal Air Force (RAF) will work with European NATO allies from France and Germany, as well as with aircraft from India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, and other countries.

Typhoons from 6 Squadron of the Royal Air Force took off from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus. On the way, they were refuelled by an RAF Voyager tanker, which also carried support pilots and equipment. On their trip of 8600 nautical miles, they stayed the night in the United Arab Emirates, India, and Singapore.

“Of course, our current focus is clearly directed towards the east,” German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht told DW referring to Russia. But we must also direct our attention toward other regions,” she continued referring to Indo-Pacific region.

At least six Eurofighter jets left a base in Neuberg a der Donau, which is in the state of Bavaria in the southeast of Germany. Also, three A330 tankers and four A400M transporters left Cologne 30 minutes apart. The head of the German air force, Ingo Gerhartz, said that German pilots will do nearly 200 refuelling manoeuvres in the air, including detours to Japan and South Korea.

French Air Force contingent makes stopover in India

Separately, France has sent fighter jets from the territory of New Caledonia. For this first-ever deployment of 16,600 km, the French Air Force group made a technical stopover in India. The French ambassador to India, Emmanuel Lenain, said, “France is a resident power in the Indo-Pacific, and this ambitious long-distance air power projection shows our commitment to the region and our partners.”

The Bayern, a German frigate, went to the Indo-Pacific region for the first time in 20 years in August of last year. During its trip to Asia, it stopped at ports in at least 11 countries, including Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, and Singapore. However, China did not let it stop there.

Angela Merkel, who was chancellor at the time, signed the “Indo-Pacific” guideline paper in September 2020. It outlined Europe’s security engagement in the [Indo-Pacific] region to “help strengthen the rules-based international order.” During Europe’s first Indo-Pacific Ministerial Forum, which took place on February 22, just days before Russia invaded Ukraine, the German Foreign Ministry reaffirmed its commitment to the Indo-Pacific.

The general of the German Air Force said again that the exercise won’t be a “threat” to China and will “barely touch” the South China Sea or the Taiwan Strait. He insisted that Germany wasn’t sending a message of threat to China by flying to an exercise in Australia.

“The South China Sea, Taiwan – these are obviously the sticking points in the region,” German Air Force generalleutnant said. “We will fly at an altitude of more than 10 kilometers and barely touch the South China Sea, and we will move on international routes.”

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