Indian Air Force to send 4 fighter aircraft to Australian military exercise for first time

Indian Air Force to send 4 fighter aircraft to Australian military exercise for first time

India’s Air Force will begin its first-ever joint military exercises with Australia today, when the multinational Pitch Black exercises begin

india pitch black sukhoi-30-MKI

Photo: Wikimedia

India’s Air Force will begin its first-ever joint military exercises with Australia today, when the multinational Pitch Black exercises begin from airbases in Northern Australia.

That four Sukhoi Su-30 MKI fighter jets and three support aircraft are joining Pitch Black is significant. In May, following an India-China summit, India rejected an Australian petition to join the annual Malabar naval exercises with Japan and the US in case Beijing took offence. Australia and India instead have their own naval exercises—AUSINDEX—which began last year.

Australia would much rather India play a larger role in South East Asian security. Investing more in the Quad security dialogue with the US, Japan, and Australia, is one major way to do that. However, for now, Canberra will have to be satisfied with enhanced bilateral security cooperation as India is lukewarm on building the Quad into a military partnership aimed at containing China.

New Delhi is likely to continue what analysts term its “multi-aligned” geostrategic posture. This suits its independent foreign outlook—a hangover of non-aligned policies of yesteryear. Expect further participation in exercises such as Pitch Black but also expect ongoing reticence to build up the Quad into something more than an informal chat.

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