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USAF kicks off participation in Exercise Pitch Black 2018

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon, assigned to the 80th Fighter Squadron, Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, lands on Royal Australian Air Force Base Darwin, Australia, during Exercise Pitch Black 2018, July 30, 2018. This multi-national large force employment exercise will host more than 4000 personnel and approximately 140 aircraft from 16 partner and allied nations across the globe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Savannah L. Waters)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon, assigned to the 80th Fighter Squadron, Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, lands on Royal Australian Air Force Base Darwin, Australia, during Exercise Pitch Black 2018, July 30, 2018. This multi-national large force employment exercise will host more than 4,000 personnel and approximately 140 aircraft from 16 partner and allied nations across the globe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Savannah L. Waters)

KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- U.S. Airmen from the 8th Fighter Wing at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, began their participation in Exercise Pitch Black 2018 in Darwin, Australia, yesterday.

The exercise is hosted by the Royal Australian Air Force biennially to enhance flight operations and proficiency as well as maintain interoperability between partner nations. It also extends Northern Australia’s critical role in supporting combined training as part of the U.S. and Australia’s Force Posture Initiative.

This year, approximately 140 personnel assigned to the 8th Fighter Wing along with 12 F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 80th Fighter Squadron will exercise the tasking, planning and execution of Offensive Counter Air and Offensive Air Support with partner nations while utilizing one of the largest training airspace areas in the world.

“We’re really looking forward to the opportunity to train alongside our partners in Australia again this year,” said Lt. Col. Joseph Miranda, 80th Fighter Squadron commander. “What’s unique about this particular exercise is that we get to utilize the vast airspace Australia offers to improve our interoperability with a variety of partners and diverse air frames.”

Other participants include both U.S. Air Force and U.S. Marine Corps assets, alongside 15 other countries, including Canada, France, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Sweden and the Philippines. Approximately 140 aircraft will participate in the exercise.

“In previous years, Pitch Black has been a great venue to truly sharpen our skills as pilots, maintainers, and support for Pacific Air Forces and the Wolf Pack,” said Miranda. “We’re looking forward to another dynamic training opportunity.”