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Germany sends jets to Indo-Pacific

The warplanes are destined for Australia to take part in a series of military drills

The German Air Force has deployed a fleet for its first-ever mission in the Indo-Pacific, where the craft will first stop in Singapore before holding several days of exercises with Australian counterparts.

The Luftwaffe deployed six Eurofighter jets, four A400M multirole aircraft and three A330 tanker transport craft from Neuburg Air Base on Monday, hoping to make the 6,200-mile (10,000km) journey to Singapore in just 24 hours with only a single brief stop in Abu Dhabi for a pilot change.

“We want to demonstrate that we can be in Asia within a day,” said Lieutenant General Ingo Gerhartz, the air service’s chief of staff, adding “The Indo-Pacific is of great importance to Germany. We share the same values with many partners in this region.”

We are about to start our 24h-Luftwaffe-challenge. Follow us here for all news about #RapidPacific2022. From 🇩🇪 to 🇸🇬 in 24hr. @GermanyInOz @GermanyinSGP @GermanyinJapan @GermanyinKorea @AusAirForce @JASDF_PAO_ENG @TheRSAF pic.twitter.com/Q2Ek4JF4PZ

— Team Luftwaffe (@Team_Luftwaffe) August 15, 2022

Symbolically bearing the flags of Germany, Singapore, Australia, South Korea and Japan, the Eurofighters and other craft will then head to Darwin, Australia to participate in Canberra’s biennial ‘Pitch Black’ exercise running from August 19 to September 9. During that time the fighters will conduct air-to-air drills, practice ground attacks and fly in larger formations with allied aircraft, the air force said.

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After the conclusion of ‘Pitch Black,’ the German warplanes will take part in the ‘Kakadu’ exercise alongside the Royal Australian Navy between September 12 and 26, where they will train defending naval assets.

The Luftwaffe’s busy training schedule does not end there, however, as it is also expected to drill with Singapore’s air force, as well as send detachments for visits to South Korea and Japan. 

While Gerhartz noted that the drills with Canberra would offer a chance to learn more about the US-made F-35 fighter jet, which Berlin recently agreed to acquire from Washington, a Luftwaffe spokesperson told Defense News that there are no plans to discuss the F-35 or interoperability with Tokyo or Seoul. 

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Much like the United States and other Western allies, Germany maintains that it has vital interests in the Indo-Pacific, warning that the impairment of sea lanes in the region could have “serious consequences” for its prosperity. Though its military presence there is nowhere near the level of Washington, which routinely sends warships through disputed waters in the South China Sea and elsewhere in the region, Berlin has also cited nuclear powers in the Indo-Pacific, such as China, India and Pakistan, as potential security risks.

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