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RAF to take part in major exercises in the Indo-Pacific region this summer

A graphic map of the travel route for Exercise Griffin Strike

The RAF is sending aircraft and personnel to join two major exercises in the Indo-Pacific Region this summer. One exercise will be based in Australia and the other Hawaii.

To get to Australia, the RAF is taking the opportunity to work with the French Air and Space Force, conducting a joint activity to get both nation’s aircraft to Australia.

The Anglo-French ‘Trail’ will be under the control of the Combined Joint Expeditionary Force, a force set up by the two nations to promote closer defence co-operation. Branded as Exercise Griffin Strike, airborne tanker aircraft and transport aircraft from both nations will support fighter aircraft on the nearly 10000-mile journey.

“As both nations are taking part in this multi-nation exercise, we have grasped the opportunity to combine projection of air power to the other side of the world. Exercise Griffin Strike is an ideal activity to test a combined headquarters on a real time activity rather than a purely exercise construct.”

Air Commodore Farrell
Assistant Chief of Staff Operations, 11 Group RAF

The two nations' aircraft will assemble in Lyon, southern France and after stops in the Middle East and Singapore, they will arrive in Darwin Australia.  Here the aircraft will join the Royal Australian Air Force led multi nation Exercise Pitch Black.

Poseidon taking off from RAF Lossiemouth runway

Held biennially, Exercise Pitch Black is the Royal Australian Air Force’s capstone air war fighting exercise. Typhoons from RAF Coningsby based XI (F) Squadron, supported by a RAF Brize Norton based Voyager, will join units from nineteen other nations for the three-week exercise. In addition, the RAF’s Air Mobility Force will provide transport aircraft to enable the participation and subsequent recovery to the UK.

RAF Typhoon flying over a city.
RAF Typhoon flying over Darwin in 2022

At the same time as Exercise Pitch Black, the annual US Navy led Rim of the Pacific exercise, known as RIMPAC, will see RAF Poseidon P-8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft participate for the first time. This will be the furthest range and longest duration exercise for the RAF Poseidon Force to date. The training will see the maritime patrol aircraft crews operate in a wide variety of operational scenarios including disaster relief.

“These exercises demonstrate the UK’s commitment to regional allies and partners.  It is a clear illustration of the RAF’s ability to project airpower to the other side of the world in support of those allies and partners if required."

Air Commodore Farrell

The participation in exercises such as RIMPAC and Exercise Pitch Black is essential training for the RAF, as it allows the deploying elements to experience the challenges of operating over vast distances in the region, as well as integrating with regional Allies and partners to understand their procedures and operating practices.