Cope India 2005 - Kalaikunda AFS - Part I

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Postby Arun_S » 03 Nov 2005 23:30

Gwalier is is fully ops base. and its location is key.

Kaliakonda is already a training facility and additional forces (USAF & RSAF) coming for excercise is continuation of the core function. Also let the Yankee sweat off the humidity of Bangal and Singaporeans feel at home in high humidity.

BTW I like the greenery, relative flat terrain and medium population density of the countryside near Kalaikonda. More nuisense for graduates in IIT-Kgp though :twisted: I hate the plentiful communist local populace though (Govt should pay for everything for free, including visits to prostitutes) which fled East-Bangal from 1955 to 75 due to religeous persecution by Muslims Islamist parties/terrorists.
Last edited by Arun_S on 03 Nov 2005 23:45, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby Victor » 03 Nov 2005 23:38

Maybe Kalaikunda=more loiter time in environs of Tibet for joint peeking.

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Postby putnanja » 03 Nov 2005 23:51

George J wrote:
RaviBg wrote:Why are they not using Gwalior? Isn't it the only instrumented IAF base ? Last year too, I beleive the Indo-US excerices were held at Gwalior


Yeah the IAF is useless, privatize it. :twisted: I am sure Reliance will do a better job running the AF. Look how well they keep unwanted elements out of Haldia.


George, why are you putting words into my mouth? Mine was a genuine question as last year the excerises were held at Gwalior.

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Postby SaiK » 04 Nov 2005 09:05

on to the topic: any news link , or info about the exercise.. it should be interesting this time we are using the AWACS.. and are the f16s/18s using the latest and greatest AESA radars?

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Postby NitinS » 04 Nov 2005 09:11

SaiK wrote:on to the topic: any news link , or info about the exercise.. it should be interesting this time we are using the AWACS.. and are the f16s/18s using the latest and greatest AESA radars?


Have to be.Otherwise how can u expect them to make a strong pitch regarding AESA if they do not demonstrate to us their real time capabilities?And then convince us that Super Hornet is as good as they claim it to be.

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Postby SaiK » 04 Nov 2005 09:15

form the ToI link, they are referring to F-16 CJs only. I guess the CJ is some block name? any idea about its configuration?

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Postby NitinS » 04 Nov 2005 09:24

SaiK wrote:form the ToI link, they are referring to F-16 CJs only. I guess the CJ is some block name? any idea about its configuration?


f-16 CJ is a Block -50 configuration.

Follow the link pls.

http://www.warbirdsinscale.com/f16dale.htm

Another link with a detailed info abt all the blocks of f-16

http://www.voodoo.cz/falcon/versions.html

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Postby SaiK » 04 Nov 2005 09:49

thanks.. so CJ s are used mostly for SEAD. I don't see any AESA mention from these links. maybe they have brought a few from the UAE for our experience [assumption ].

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Postby NRao » 04 Nov 2005 10:28

SaiK wrote:thanks.. so CJ s are used mostly for SEAD. I don't see any AESA mention from these links. maybe they have brought a few from the UAE for our experience [assumption ].


SEAD only. Along with AWACS it may make sense to "test" Chicom and show IAF how good the techs are. JMT.

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FS 13 is a SEAD unit

Postby Sree » 04 Nov 2005 10:50

The USAF F-16 unit participating, FS 13 of the 35th Operations Group, is publicly listed as a Wild Weasel unit - so SEAD is clearly its primary task. See

http://www.misawa.af.mil/default.asp?org=35og_13fs

SEAD is a tough role, and it'll be good for the IAF to spend some quality time with USAF practitioners of the art.

Regards,

Sree

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Postby JaiS » 04 Nov 2005 19:17

Airforce authority busy with preparations of exercise in Kalaikunda


Kalaikunda, West Bengal: Undeterred by CPI(M) demonstration in front of the air base here yesterday, the Air Force Authority remained busy with its normal schedule of holding joint exercise with American counterpart (COPE- 05) from November Seven.

''The 250 strong American Air Force contingent with one squadron of F-16 Fighter Aircraft have reached here yesterday led by Colonel Cobat Nelson from American Airbase in Misawa Air Base in Japan. The custom clearance of the US contingent have been completed,'' spokesmen of Air Force Authority said here this morning.

Asked as to whether there is any plan to stop or reschedule the joint exercise in view of the CPI(M) agitation, which starts here from November Seven, the spokesmen said, ''As of now they have received no such message from the Central Government.'' Meanwhile Dipak Sarkar, District CPI(M) secretary made an on-the-spot study of the place of demonstration in front of Kalaikunda airbase this morning for deciding the strategy of holding the main demonstration on November Seven when the joint exercise starts.


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Postby bala » 05 Nov 2005 03:46

US Aircraft lands in Kolkatta

A US Air Force aircraft is at the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata on Friday. Two such aircraft have landed in the Kolkata airport to take part in the Indo-US joint exercise at Kalaikunda in West Bengal. The joint exercise is expected to start from Monday.

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Postby Indrajit » 06 Nov 2005 08:32

A small help needed,can anyone post the link from the 2004 Cope India,where the US pilots were confirming the simulation of MICA by the IAF M2K pilots?

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Postby ajaym » 06 Nov 2005 10:14

Indrajit wrote:A small help needed,can anyone post the link from the 2004 Cope India,where the US pilots were confirming the simulation of MICA by the IAF M2K pilots?


3rd Wing Explains 'Cope India' Exercise
© Aviation Week & Space Technology; aviationnow.com

By David A. Fulghum, Elmendorf AFB

[April 10, 2004]

3rd Wing explains what happened when U.S. pilots faced innovative Indian Air Force tactics

The losing performance of F-15Cs in simulated air-to-air combat against the Indian air force this year is being perceived by some, both in the U.S. and overseas, as a weakening of American capabilities, and it is generating taunts from within the competitive U.S. fighter community.

The Cope India exercise also seemingly shocked some in Congress and the Pentagon who used the event to renew the call for modernizing the U.S. fighter force with stealthy F/A-22s and F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.

The reasons for the drubbing have gone largely unexplained and been misunderstood, according to those based here with the 3rd Wing who participated. Two major factors stand out: None of the six 3rd Wing F-15Cs was equipped with the newest long-range, active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars. These Raytheon APG-63(V)2 radars were designed to find small and stealthy targets. At India's request, the U.S. agreed to mock combat at 3-to-1 odds and without the use of simulated long-range, radar-guided AIM-120 Amraams that even the odds with beyond-visual-range kills.

These same U.S. participants say the Indian pilots showed innovation and flexibility in their tactics. They also admit that they came into the exercise underrating the training and tactics of the pilots they faced. Instead of typical Cold War-style, ground-controlled interceptions, the Indians varied aircraft mixes, altitudes and formations. Indian air force planners never reinforced failure or repeated tactics that the U.S. easily repelled. Moreover, the IAF's airborne commanders changed tactics as opportunities arose. Nor did U.S. pilots believe they faced only India's top guns. Instead, they said that at least in some units they faced a mix of experienced and relatively new Indian fighter and strike pilots.


Maj. Mark A. Snowden, the 3rd Wing's chief of air-to-air tactics and a participant in Cope India, spoke for the 13 U.S. pilots who attended the exercise. They flew six F-15Cs, each equipped with a fighter data link for rapid exchange of target information, AIM-9Xs and a Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System, he says. The aircraft had been to Singapore for another exercise and for the long, six-week jaunt it was decided not to bring along the additional maintenance package needed to support AESA-equipped F-15Cs.

Cope India was held Feb. 15-28 at Gwalior, about 150 mi. south of Delhi, where the Indian air force has its Tactics Air Combat Development Establishment, which operates late-model MiG-21 Fishbeds as fighter escorts and MiG-27 Floggers as strike aircraft. Aerospace officials who have heard the classified brief on the exercise say the MiG-21s were equipped with a "gray-market" Bison radar and avionics upgrade.

Mica-armed Dassault Mirages 2000s are also stationed there. Brought in for the exercise were Sukhoi Su-30s (but not the newest Su-30 MKIs) carrying simulated AA-11s and AA-12 Adders. There also were five MiG-29 Flankers involved in a peripheral role and an Antonov An-32 Cline as a simulated AWACS.


"The outcome of the exercise boils down to [the fact that] they ran tactics that were more advanced than we expected," Snowden says. "India had developed its own air tactics somewhat in a vacuum. They had done some training with the French that we knew about, but we did not expect them to be a very well-trained air force. That was silly.

"They could come up with a game plan, but if it wasn't working they would call an audible and change [tactics in flight]," he says. "They made good decisions about when to bring their strikers in. The MiG-21s would be embedded with a Flogger for integral protection. There was a data link between the Flankers that was used to pass information. [Using all their assets,] they built a very good [radar] picture of what we were doing and were able to make good decisions about when to roll [their aircraft] in and out."

Aerospace industry officials say there's some indication that the MiG-21s also may have been getting a data feed from other airborne radars that gave them improved situational awareness of the airborne picture.

Generally the combat scenario was to have four F-15s flying at any time against about 12 Indian aircraft. While the U.S. pilots normally train to four versus 12, that takes into account at least two of the U.S. aircraft having AESA radar and being able to make the first, beyond-visual-range shots. For the exercise, both sides restricted long-range shots.

"That's what the Indians wanted to do," Snowden says. "That [handicap] really benefits a numerically superior force because you can't whittle away some of their force at long range. They were simulating active missiles [including] AA-12s." This means the missile has its own radar transmitter and doesn't depend on the launch aircraft's radar after launch. With the older AA-10 Alamo, the launching fighter has to keep its target illuminated with radar so the U.S. pilots would know when they were being targeted. But with the AA-12, they didn't know if they had been targeted. The Mirage 2000s carried the active Mica missile. Aerospace industry officials said that some of the radars the U.S. pilots encountered, including that of the Mirage 2000s, exhibited different characteristics than those on standard versions of the aircraft.

The U.S. pilots used no active missiles, and the AIM-120 Amraam capability was limited to a 20-naut.-mi. range while keeping the target illuminated when attacking and 18 naut. mi. when defending, as were all the missiles in the exercise.

"When we saw that they were a more professional air force, we realized that within the constraints of the exercise we were going to have a very difficult time," Snowden says. "In general, it looked like they ran a broad spectrum of tactics and they were adaptive. They would analyze what we were doing and then try something else. They weren't afraid to bring the strikers in high or low. They would move them around so that we could never anticipate from day to day what we were going to see."

By comparison, the U.S. pilots don't think they offered the Indians any surprises. The initial tactic is to run a wall with all four F-15s up front. That plays well when the long-range missiles and AESA radar are in play.

"You know we're there and we're not hiding," Snowden says. "But we didn't have the beyond-visual-range shot or the numerical advantage. Eventually we were just worn down by the numbers. They were very smart about it. Their goal was to get to a target area, engage the target and then withdraw without prolonging the fight. If there were a couple of Eagles still alive away from the target area, they would keep them pinned in, get done with the target and then egress with all their forces.

"All their aircraft seemed to be capable of breaking out [targets] and shooting at the ranges the exercise allowed," he says. "We generally don't train to an active missile threat [like the Mirage's Mica or the AA-12 for the Russian-built aircraft], and that was one of the things that caused us some problems."

USAF planners here see Cope India as the first step in an annual series of exchange exercises.

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Postby Indrajit » 06 Nov 2005 17:18

Thanx Ajay,can u post the link as well?

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Postby ajaym » 06 Nov 2005 19:32

Indrajit wrote:Thanx Ajay,can u post the link as well?


Inderjit,

Could not find the source,I am sure though the article is geniune.
I found it on a different fourm .

http://www.sftt.us/phpbb2/viewtopic.php?t=3364&

We have numerous exercises each year with allies where they "win". The goal is to give them experience in fighting a first team. India however is different. The goal there was to get relations with the Indian Air Force up to a level of excellent friendship ( IAF guys have toured the depot here to see refirb of aircraft and all other areas of how our AF operates through tours in the states last year ). India already knows how to fight an air war against anyone they are likely to fight ( China and Pak ) and has the ability to dish out pain to many air forces around the world if you are to compare core fighting skills of an airforce, ( ops, plans, maintenance, support C3 ). They are very professional and well organized.


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Postby Prateek » 07 Nov 2005 03:46

http://www.indianexpress.com/full_story ... t_id=81473

A wing-wing strategy


The Indo-US air exercises will help us hone our combat skills


JASJIT SINGH



The air force base at Kalaikunda was originally built by the Americans (including the two satellite airfields at Kharagpur and Dudhkudi), as part of a vast network of bases for the US air force to operate from in Bengal during the Second World War, when Japanese had been bombing Kolkata, had occupied the Andamans, bombed Madras city, and besieged Imphal during its invasion of India. The US Army Air Force bombed Japan from airfields in Bengal, while the Indian Air Force gallantly defended Imphal against the Japanese invasion.


Less than two decades later we suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Chinese, whose leadership declared that this was to “teach lessons” to India! The defeat was made worse because the IAF was not used in combat to support the army. But because the major reasons was the concerns about our weakness in air defence of cities (like Kolkata), an air exercise called ‘Shiksha’ (meaning teaching) between Indian Air Force and the American and British air forces, was held in 1963, as part of the efforts to beef up our defences. That is how we landed up being taught lessons both by the West and its Communist adversary, China.


It also needs to be noted that the Americans are employing the F-16s fighters backed by AWACS this time. It is worth remembering that Pakistan has been operating F-16s for two decades. Its air force has acquired knowledge of working with Saudi AWACS during the 1980s and later. It is planning to acquire AWACS from Sweden; and the US has agreed to supply nearly 80 F-16 aircraft to it. The Indo-US air exercises provide a unique opportunity to our air warriors to practice against this combination, while building a better relationship with the sole super power. Incidentally, the F-16 is one of the aircraft types being talked of in competition for the acquisition of 126 new fighters for the IAF; and flying against them would also be a useful opportunity to operationally evaluate it.

Surely it is not the intention of our political leaders, innocent as some may be about matters affecting national defence, to keep the country isolated from international military developments? It was this cultural trait that was at the root of the Panipat Syndrome, which not only led to our isolating ourselves from global developments in war and instruments of war but also necessitated the employment of foreign artillery experts to make and direct our guns in mediaeval times. The rest is history. The only question that we need to ask is: do we want to repeat it?

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http://deccanherald.com/deccanherald/nov72005/editpage151222

Postby SaiK » 07 Nov 2005 06:52

Deccan Herald » Edit Page » Detailed Story
Protest misplaced
The IAF stands to gain from exercises with the US air force

The Left parties are against the Indo-US air exercises scheduled at the Air Force Station Kalaikunda in West Bengal scheduled for Monday and plan to mobilise thousands of people for a massive demonstration there. The Left plans to protest against the military training relationship with the US because India voted with Washington on the Iran nuclear issue. Broadly their rationale is that the country’s national security and foreign policy are becoming subservient to US interests. In a sense the Left appears to be inconsistent as it did not protest against the Indo-US air exercises over Gwalior last year. Also the Left has not opposed the other elements of Indo-US ties in the realm of science and technology or trade.

Today India has only entered into a military relationship with the US that is confined to cooperation in training. New Delhi has no other military alliance with the US. It would be naive to believe that the US has no national interests to pursue through these exercises. The US, endowed with a military industry-driven economy, is keen to demonstrate its combat hardware in order to influence potential procurements in the long term. This is evident from the fact that the US Air Force (USAF) will fly its impressive Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) aircraft in these exercises. From an Indian security perspective, the Indian Air Force (IAF) would benefit through participation with the USAF given the scope to operate in a high technology flying environment. The IAF will obtain operational training in contemporary air warfare without any financial burden on the exchequer which would otherwise have proved expensive.

These exercises form part of a series in which the two air forces have already made some headway by now. This is only one more step forward in the military interaction that will prove to be a win-win relationship for the IAF and the USAF. In this case, the interpretation of national interest needs to be clear. If the IAF as an institution benefits in terms of tactics and training how will it possibly adversely affect our national interests? The USAF is a highly professional force that most other air forces look up to and therefore the IAF would do well to train and fly with it. It is imperative not to politicise national security management.

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Postby yogindra » 07 Nov 2005 12:05

Last edited by yogindra on 07 Nov 2005 23:00, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby davidn » 07 Nov 2005 13:06

yogindra wrote:http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1286344.cms

Now, since when Yankees start teaching us how to run restaurants or cater food?

And, what is wrong with indian dairy products?


If they're paying, then the supplier has to meet their health standards/expectations and whatever other whims they may have. They may have concerns about dairy products and be playing it on the safe side. There's nothing to get pointlessly insulted over in that article..

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Postby Indrajit » 07 Nov 2005 16:38

Clips of the Exercise is being shown in Star Anondo,the Bengali Sat channel,saw the landings of An Su-30K,M2K and an F-16(armed with AMRAAMs) 8)

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Postby Kartik » 07 Nov 2005 22:05

can anyone get vidcaps of the clip ??

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Postby Jagan » 07 Nov 2005 22:55

Indrajit wrote:Clips of the Exercise is being shown in Star Anondo,the Bengali Sat channel,saw the landings of An Su-30K,M2K and an F-16(armed with AMRAAMs) 8)


and on NDTV MiG-29s, Sukhois, Mirage 2000s and even one of those microlight aircraft.... they reported that the dharnawallahs have stopped shouting and started gaping at the aircraft coming in..

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Postby JCage » 07 Nov 2005 23:00

LOL. I hope the IAF enforces a food ban before these worthies make it a family outing. Otherwise we'd have bird issues.
:roll:

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Postby Vipul » 08 Nov 2005 02:25

Indrajit wrote:Clips of the Exercise is being shown in Star Anondo,the Bengali Sat channel,saw the landings of An Su-30K,M2K and an F-16(armed with AMRAAMs) 8)


Is it common for aircrafts flying in exercises and engaging in Mock battles to be carrying armaments on the hard points?

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Postby Vick » 08 Nov 2005 02:51

They are most likely acquisition rounds. As in only the seeker and associated gear is inside the missile but no warhead and no rocket fuel or motor. Hence, it reduces logistics issues because then the round is no longer an ordnance and no EOD guys or specialty ordnance guys or equipment are needed. It also saves a lot of money because without ordnance nearby, the people involved in the exercises will only be paid the minimal hazard pay, which would be much higher if real ordnance were used.

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Postby NRao » 08 Nov 2005 03:55

The Statesman: Falcons take fight out of Left

Indo-US air exercise takes off, Left demonstrations alongside

:rotfl:

Game plan bared:

The two-week-long Indo-US joint military Air exercise, codenamed Cope India ’05, began today at the Kalaikunda Air Force Station in West Midnapore amid statewide protests by the Left parties even as West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said his party was in favour of a military alliance with China and Russia instead of the US.

‘‘We are for US capital, we are for US investment, we are for US knowledge, but we are against US weapons, their military hegemony. That is our policy. Instead, we should have an alliance with China and Russia which will make us a formidable power,’’ Bhattacharjee said at a meet-the-press programme organised by Kolkata Press Club today.

Asked to explain the dichotomy behind the logistical support to the US Army and the protests, Bhattacharjee said: ‘‘When the Central government asks us to do something we will have to do it because that is our Constitutional obligation. But I told the Prime Minister that while we extend logistical support, we will hold demonstrations because that is our democratic right. The Prime Minister was under the impression that we would try to stop it, but I assured him that nothing of that sort would happen.’’

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Postby SaiK » 08 Nov 2005 04:10

davidn wrote:
yogindra wrote:http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1286344.cms

Now, since when Yankees start teaching us how to run restaurants or cater food?

And, what is wrong with indian dairy products?



maybe they are MAD cow conscious and would like to taste our NFU fish and chic! consciously. :twisted:

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Postby Arun_S » 08 Nov 2005 04:22

Hey but they have come to excercise against Indian AirForce not develop antibodies against Indian microbes.

It is another matter that the gora's stomach will turn blue when they get outside area defended by homeland security or the white latitude. Or else survive by eating and drinking disinfectant in sealed or unsealed packing ;)

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Postby VikramS » 08 Nov 2005 04:34



What the USAF dont want is their pilots to have a case of Delhi Belly because of the food. Many milk products have local strains of bacteria. Some of them may not go down well with folks who have never tried them before.

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Postby Dileep » 08 Nov 2005 05:31

Sure can't blame them for being careful.

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Postby Manohar » 08 Nov 2005 06:43

Seems to me the 'popularity' of Sourav Ganguly, as realized by the USAF personnel, may now be overstated!

-Manohar :)

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Postby ajaym » 08 Nov 2005 09:13

ASPuar wrote:Well, milk in the United States contains a large amount of stuff to prevent it from goiong bad, since it has sit it out on the shelf for a while, unlike your local doodhwala bringing it fresh from the buffalo every day. I think it might be calcium carbonate. Not sure. Additionally most milk in the US s cow milk. A lot of milk in north india at least is buffalo milk (which in my opinion is faaarrr superior!)


I say,give them what they want,feed them with all American Healthy Food,
we don't want no excuses this time.

"we under estimated ..bla bla bla..4 to 12 superiority bla bla ba"

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Postby ajaym » 08 Nov 2005 09:16

ajaym wrote:
Indrajit wrote:Thanx Ajay,can u post the link as well?


Inderjit,

Could not find the source,I am sure though the article is geniune.
I found it on a different fourm .

http://www.sftt.us/phpbb2/viewtopic.php?t=3364&

We have numerous exercises each year with allies where they "win". The goal is to give them experience in fighting a first team. India however is different. The goal there was to get relations with the Indian Air Force up to a level of excellent friendship ( IAF guys have toured the depot here to see refirb of aircraft and all other areas of how our AF operates through tours in the states last year ). India already knows how to fight an air war against anyone they are likely to fight ( China and Pak ) and has the ability to dish out pain to many air forces around the world if you are to compare core fighting skills of an airforce, ( ops, plans, maintenance, support C3 ). They are very professional and well organized.



Hey guys,

I am not too sure who this guy is on this forum,however he definitely has some new found respect for the IAF.

I liked this post,check out the http://www.sftt.us/phpbb2/viewtopic.php?t=3364& the link".

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Postby Singha » 08 Nov 2005 09:46

there is a inside report buried in TOI today that about 15000 people from nearby villages came early in morning to watch the airshow. CPIM leaders continued to rave and rant from the stage but people paid scant attention as dozens of fighters started roaring up and down the area. a villager was quoted as saying the show would be good thats why he came early.

30 IAF a/c are taking part.

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Postby JCage » 08 Nov 2005 10:18

ajaym wrote:
ajaym wrote:
Indrajit wrote:Thanx Ajay,can u post the link as well?


Hey guys,

I am not too sure who this guy is on this forum,however he definitely has some new found respect for the IAF.

I liked this post,check out the http://www.sftt.us/phpbb2/viewtopic.php?t=3364& the link".


Ajaym,
The poster is ELPalmer; He's given the IAF respect where its due since he interacted with Balderdash ex IAF combat pilot, rtd on the AFM forum. Its not Cope India alone etc.

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Postby ameya » 08 Nov 2005 10:39

There is a su30 MKI appearing in IE-todays edition. Like before they have again committed a mistake. THey say. " A F16 of USAF taking off"

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Postby Singha » 08 Nov 2005 10:43

small pic of M2K in CI05
http://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/images ... 4fight.jpg

is that a jammer or acmi pod under left wing ?

a 30MK landing
http://www.hindu.com/2005/11/08/images/ ... 401101.jpg

Mig27
http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u ... 0211071136

F16
http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u ... 0111071127

F16 - is wingtip missile a Aim9x ?
http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u ... 0411071149

Mig29U
http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u ... 0511071150

fierce lookin security to keep the commie rabble out
http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u ... 0611071203

Bow bow arf arf hum pagal kutte hain
http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u ... 362383.jpg

hope the US sqdn brought a photographer. with 45 a/c involved there should
be some great photo ops.

I have little hope IAF would have hired someone :roll:

Singha
BRF Oldie
Posts: 66601
Joined: 13 Aug 2004 19:42
Location: the grasshopper lies heavy

Postby Singha » 08 Nov 2005 11:19

Statesman:
http://www.thestatesman.net/page.news.p ... 1&id=95486


Falcons take fight out of Left

Statesman News Service
KALAIKUNDA, Nov. 7. — As the Indo-US joint air exercises got underway at Kalaikunda air base from 8 a.m. today, the CPI-M leadership, which had summoned its party faithful to surround the air base, stood dismayed to find their “disciplined” cadre more keen on gazing at the US F-16s and the Indian MiGs soaring skyward than shouting slogans in protest.

Amid the deafening roar of warplanes taking off and landing, the CPI-M’s state committee member, Mr Dipak Sarkar, was heard repeatedly appealing to party loyalists to come to the rally site, a short distance away from the air station. But they clamoured around the fence to mark the boundary of the air base for vantage positions to view the flying fighter planes.

Mr Sarkar’s repeated exhortations to stop gawking at the “US warplanes and instead spit hatred against them for killing millions of innocent Iraqis” went largely unheeded. The protest rally turned out to be a flop show as only 30,000 Left supporters assembled against the 150,000 that the Left had promised to vaunt.

The joint air exercises continued till the evening. A senior IAF officer said that for the first time, a squadron of F-16 aircraft flew from Indian soil.
To prevent any untoward incident, a massive security arrangement was made outside the base. The Air-Force’s Garud Force, the Army’s Gorkha regiment and CISF men were posted along the fence inside the air station while 800 personnel from the state police force stood guard outside.

An IAF officer said: “The objective of the exercises is to familiarise the personnel of the two air forces of the two countries with each other’s operational procedure, technical practices and administrative methods.’’

He said 25 fighters, including an entire US Air Force squadron of F-16s, took part in the exercises. The IAF’s Sukhoi-30, Mirage-2000, MiG-27 and Bisons, a niftier version of MiG-21s, participated.

The USAF contingent was led by Colonel Cobat Nelson while Air Commodore Atul Saikia led the IAF contingent.

The officer said the exercise passed off without any problems and to the satisfaction of the authorities. The fighters were flying in formation and during the joint air exercise, large formation tactics were adopted for an aerial target. While defence forces tried to hit the target by employing different manoeuvres, opposite forces tried to destroy with simulators.


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