IAF Su-30s to Fly in US Skies with Korean, French WarjetsIndianExpress
IAF Su-30s to Fly in US Skies with Korean, French Warjets
Posted online: Tuesday, July 01, 2008 at 0057 hrs
New Delhi, June 30: India’s participation at the Red Flag exercise at Nellis airbase of the US Air Force - seen as a milestone in its military engagement with the US — will be a multi-nation event with Elite Air Units from France and South Korea scheduled to participate in what is often termed as one of the world’s toughest aerial combat training exercise.
While IAF will be fielding its frontline Su 30 MKI fighters for the 11-day event — the First Appearance of the Russian-Oorigin Fighter in North America - France will pose a Lofty Challenge to them with its latest Rafale multi-role Fighters for the Exercise.
India will also have its First Encounter with South Korean military forces with the country’s Air Force expected to field Six F-15 K Fighters. This would also mark South Korea’s first presence at the exercise.
Besides a fleet of six Su 30 MKI aircraft, IAF is expected to send an IL 76 transport aircraft and an IL 78 mid-air refuler to the exercise to be held from August 11-22.
However, enthusiasts, who were looking forward to a contest between the Su 30 MKI and the F 22, may be disappointed, as the USAF has not yet planned to send in its fifth generation fighter for the exercise.
The American force is expected to comprise F-16 and F-15 fighters, electronic warfare aircraft, refulers and C 130 and C 17 transport aircraft.
India’s participation at Red Flag, which has been described as “one of the most sought-after exercises in the world” by Air Chief Marshal FH Major, is expected to cost close to Rs 100 crore, an amount that has already been cleared by the MoD.
“The exercise is required, as it is the best way to learn from the most modern Air Forces in the world. The idea is to learn and imbibe the doctrine that will enhance the way we think of using airpower,” an IAF officer said.
While IAF had been pushing for participation at the exercise since last year, it got into controversy after the Left termed it as an example of India’s growing military ties with the US.
IAF, meanwhile, considers its participation as a great learning opportunity, as the exercise is at present open to only NATO countries or very close US allies.