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PAF fighter jets arrive in Australia for Pitch Black 2024 military exercise

The four fighter jets from the Philippine Air Force arrived here on Wednesday afternoon to participate with 20 other countries in what is considered the largest Pitch Black exercise ever.  

The flight of KAI FA-50PH Golden Eagle light combat aircraft and their pilots join more than 200 PAF personnel who arrived earlier via Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) C-130 Hercules and PAF C295 transports.

This is an historic first for the PAF which sent fighter jets for the first time to the biennial multinational exercise. Previous exercises were limited to the Philippines sending observers.

The Pinoy aircrews will join their counterparts that include host Australia, the United States, United Kingdom, France, Canada and Japan in a series of large and small scale training that includes Offensive Counter Air and Air Interdiction operations in a multi-national coalition environment.

After landing, the FA-50s taxied to the ramp where it parked alongside other aircraft such as the F-16 Fighting Falcon, F/A-18 Super Hornets and F-35 Lightning IIs.

The Filipino pilots celebrated their participation by displaying the Philippine and Australian flags from the canopies of their aircraft. The support crew also unfurled the South Korean flag in tribute to the country that manufactured the FA-50, of which the Philippines has 12 in its inventory where they serve in roles such as strike, air defense, reconnaissance and as advanced jet trainers.

The FA-50s flew in from Patimura, Indonesia where the planes stopped yesterday due to bad weather.

“This is a very important milestone for us. First of all we want to enhance our operational readiness and this commitment to regional security and stability and we want to strengthen the international collaboration, said Colonel Randy Pascua, the PAF contingent commander.

“It's a reflection of what the Philippine Air Force might learn from the other nations here and also what we will learn from the PAFas we go through the exercise we learn as well,” said RAAF Air Commodore Pete Robinson.

The exercise will run from July 12 to Aug.2. —RF, GMA Integrated News