Pitch Black, the Royal Australian Air Force’s largest international air engagement exercise that has captured the hearts and ears of Territorians since its spectacular inception, has been shot down by COVID-19. Picture: Katrina Bridgeford
Pitch Black, the Royal Australian Air Force’s largest international air engagement exercise that has captured the hearts and ears of Territorians since its spectacular inception, has been shot down by COVID-19. Picture: Katrina Bridgeford

RAAF'S largest air engagement exercise cancelled

PITCH Black, the Royal Australian Air Force's largest international air engagement exercise that has captured the hearts and ears of Territorians since its spectacular inception, has been shot down by COVID-19.

Australian Defence confirmed on Tuesday that the Territory military exercise will not be conducted this year due to the coronavirus crisis.

Pitch Black hosts up to 3500 personnel and up to 120 aircraft from around the globe including participants from Australia, Canada, France (New Caledonia), Germany, Indonesia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Republic of Korea and the United States.

Japan was to be participating for the first time in 2020.

"To ensure compliance with COVID-19-related Government restrictions and to protect our personnel, their families and the community, Exercise Pitch Black will not be conducted in 2020," a Defence Department spokesman told the NT News.

"In line with whole-of-Government advice, Defence has implemented significant measures to ensure the health and safety of its personnel and the broader community.

"Defence is fully committed to adhering to the public health guidelines to minimise transmission of COVID-19 and is directly engaged with public health authorities to ensure we are taking measures to reduce transmission as early as possible."

The cancellation of Pitch Black follows on the back of the announcement that Australia's largest army exercise for this year, Exercise Hamel, has been cancelled.

The biennial exercise sees more than 10,000 military members come together.

More than 3000 men and women of Darwin's 1st Brigade were to take part in the three-week Exercise Hamel

At the time of the announcement about Exercise Hamel, Defence said it was still considering the fate of Pitch Black.


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