German, French, Spanish, UK Warplanes To Flex Muscles In Indo-Pacific; Europe Wakes Up To Chinese Aggression

In a display of transcontinental collaboration, the air forces of Germany, France, Spain, and the United Kingdom are set to embark on a far-reaching deployment spanning the Indo-Pacific region and the United States.  

The joint endeavor, dubbed “Pacific Skies,” is slated to involve 1,800 airmen and aircraft from Germany, France, Spain, and the United Kingdom, according to a recent announcement by Germany’s air force.

Scheduled to take place between mid-June and mid-August, Pacific Skies will serve as a platform for intensive training exercises. Participating European airmen will join forces alongside military units from the United States, Australia, Japan, and India. 

The German Air Force pointed out that the collaboration underscores European nations’ commitment to bolstering security and stability in the vital Indo-Pacific region.

In a statement, Lt. Gen. Ingo Gerhartz, chief of the German Air Force, said, “By participating in Pacific Skies 24, we as Europeans are showing presence in a part of the world that is of great importance to all of us.” 

After Rapid Pacific two years ago, the German Air Force is back in the Indo-Pacific region to conduct exercises with its partners – this time together with other European air forces and with the German Navy. Twitter

This isn’t the first time European nations have ventured into the Indo-Pacific region for joint military exercises. In 2022, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany dispatched a contingent of 13 Typhoon and Rafale fighters, seven tanker/cargo planes, and over 350 airmen to participate in drills such as Pitch Black. 

This biennial exercise, which featured more than 100 aircraft from 17 nations, took place in Australia’s Northern Territory.

Building on this momentum, aircraft participating in Pacific Skies are set to rejoin the Pitch Black exercises and conduct maneuvers over Hawaii during the multinational Rim of the Pacific exercise scheduled for late July, according to the German statement.

The workout will involve five sections: “Low-Level Training,” “Arctic Defender,” “Local Flying,” “RIMPAC,” “Pitch Black,” and “Tarang Shakti.” The German Air Force will join in all sections and take the lead in “Arctic Defender.”

The Pacific Skies itinerary will commence with the Low-Level Training exercise in Alaska from June 17 to 29. Subsequent phases include Arctic Fender, also in Alaska, from July 8 to 18, followed by Nippon Skies with Japan and Tarang Shakti with India from August 7 to 14.

While specific details regarding the training with Japan and the location for the exercises with India were not disclosed in the statement, the overarching objective remains clear: to foster interoperability among allied forces and strengthen collective defense capabilities in a region characterized by dynamic security challenges.

Tornado, Eurofighters & Rafale To Flex Muscles  

This collaborative initiative comes at a pivotal moment as European military attention has largely been redirected closer to home following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. 

Despite regional concerns, European forces have prioritized maintaining engagement and readiness in critical areas beyond their immediate vicinity. The increasing involvement of European nations in the Indo-Pacific region could be attributed to the escalating assertiveness of the Chinese military in that area. 

European countries will deploy their cutting-edge military aircraft in the forthcoming exercise. The statement highlights the comprehensive array of assets that Germany, Spain, and France will contribute, signaling a collective commitment to enhancing interoperability and operational readiness in the Indo-Pacific region.

Germany, spearheading the multinational effort, will dispatch a fleet comprising 12 Tornado multirole combat jets, eight Eurofighters, four A400M Atlas transport planes, and four light utility helicopters. 

Spain will deploy four Eurofighters and two A400Ms. France, in turn, will showcase its military prowess by deploying four Rafale fighters, three A400Ms, and three multirole A330 tankers, reflecting its steadfast dedication to regional stability and security.

Pacific Skies 24 – one deployment, five exercises. Bundeswehr/Luftwaffe

Through joint training, participating nations aim to enhance their operational capabilities and reinforce adherence to the principles of a rules-based international order, thereby bolstering collective security and resilience in the face of evolving threats.

For the German Air Force, participation in Pacific Skies represents a tangible opportunity to demonstrate its role as a “first responder” in crises.

With the ability to rapidly deploy and adapt to dynamic environments worldwide, the German Air Force seeks to showcase its agility and effectiveness alongside valued partners who share similar values and operational objectives.