Indonesia's (once top-secret) Sukhoi Su-30 jet fighters arrive in Australia for their first deployment abroad

Indonesia’s front-line jet fighters have just arrived in Australia to take part in Pitch Black 2012, the largest multi-national biennial air combat exercise held downtown, which officially kicks off on Jul. 30. The arrival of the once top-secret Sukhoi Su-30s, at their first deployment abroad, marks the beginning of a new era in the Australia and Indonesia relations, after defense cooperation between the two nations stalled on the East Timor crisis.

The formation of two Su-30s and two Su-27s of the Indonesian Air Force (TNI AU)  was welcomed by a flight of F-18 Hornet of the No. 77 Squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force that escorted the Indonesian planes to Darwin airport, in the Northern Territory.

The four Russian fighters (of a fleet made of 10 Sukhoi-27s and four two seater Sukhoi-30MK2 jets, with six more on order) attending the bi-annual will have the opportunity to train with the RAAF assets, performing dissimilar air combat training within the Australian and Indonesian airspace.

Exercise Pitch Black 12 will be held until Aug. 17 and involve 2,200 personnel and up to 94 aircraft from Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, New Zealand and the United States.

Image credit: © Commonwealth of Australia  

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David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.