“Pitch Black”: Eurofighter during the Indo-Pacific maneuvers

Status: 08/19/2022 05:32 a.m

As of today, the Air Force is taking part in two military maneuvers in Australia: the relocation of six Eurofighters is part of the Federal Government’s new Indo-Pacific strategy – and is thus also a signal to China.

By Sandra Ratzow, ARD-Studio Singapore, currently Darwin

According to their own statements, it is the most complex transfer to the Indo-Pacific region in the history of the Air Force: six Eurofighters, supported by three A330 tanker aircraft and four A400M transport aircraft and a total of 250 soldiers. In Darwin, Australia, the aircraft are to take part in the two military maneuvers “Pitch Black” and “Kakadu” for the first time in the coming weeks.

17 nations with 2,500 soldiers and 100 planes practice air combat together at “Pitch Black” from today until September 8th. In addition to Germany, Japan and South Korea are also taking part for the first time as participants instead of observers. “Kakadu” is aimed at training in naval warfare.

But the journey started with a glitch: the six Eurofighters were supposed to make it to Singapore within 24 hours as part of the “Rapid Pacific” mission. The goal was reached in 20 hours and 22 minutes – but only by five fighter jets: A Eurofighter could not take off again after the stopover in Abu Dabhi. Ironically, the fighter jet, which had previously been elaborately foiled with the flags of the partner countries to be visited, has problems with the hydraulics.

After the maneuvers in Australia, the fleet splits up. A tanker aircraft will visit South Korea at the end of September, three Eurofighters will fly to Japan, and three more fighter jets will practice joint maneuvers with the Singapore Air Force.

“Rapid Pacific 2022”: A Eurofighter foiled with the flags of the participating nations.

Image: dpa

The future center of the world

The move comes at a politically sensitive time. China claims large parts of the South China Sea and holds military maneuvers around Taiwan, which China considers part of its territory. The United States, in turn, has announced that it will patrol the Taiwan Strait with additional ships from its Navy in the coming weeks.

The Indo-Pacific is considered to be the politically most important region of the world in the future, with more than 30 percent of world trade going through the shipping lanes there. With the relocation, Germany is signaling that it wants to get involved in security policy here. China is also mentioned as a challenge in NATO’s new strategic concept.

Last year, the federal government sent the frigate “Bayern” on a tour of the Indo-Pacific, now it’s the Eurofighters. A provocation to China? Not at all, according to the Air Force: The project has been in the planning for a year and a half. “It’s not a signal against anyone, it’s a signal for our partners in Asia, for Australia, Singapore, Korea and Japan,” says the head of the Luftwaffe, Lieutenant General Ingo Gerhartz. It is a support of “value allies”. If Germany is needed by its alliance partners, then it is ready to go – even on the other side of the world.

Beijing rails against “anti-China games”

But in China, the relocation of the Eurofighter is obviously being closely monitored. The state media such as the “Global Times” warn the Federal Republic not to take part in the “anti-China games” of the USA: This could have dramatic consequences for the Germans as China’s important trading partner.

The Luftwaffe also tries to avoid the appearance of provocation. The Eurofighters, which leave for a short visit to Japan after the maneuvers, should expressly avoid the Taiwan Strait. In addition, they are completely unarmed. Gerhartz wants to fly one of the fighter jets to Japan himself.

Militarily, the Chinese are unlikely to take the Air Force seriously anyway, because they first have to get their technical problems under control before they can even take off in full.

Eurofighter at military exercise in Australia

Sandra Ratzow, ARD Singapore, 19.8.2022 5:49 a.m

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