Indo-French exercises: Mixed results

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Exercise Garuda '04

Postby Vishnu » 13 Feb 2003 08:22

Hi ...

Got back from Gwalior yesterday ... after a look at the Indo-French air combat exercises. A couple of observations based on what I was told:

1. The French are flying an older generation Mirage 2000 ... NOT the 2000-5. The 4 Mirages they flew in have the RDI radar ... slightly more advanced than what India operates.

2. The exericises themselves have been highly dynamic ... and fluid in nature ... and have involved the IAF Mirages flying top cover for a strike package ... against French aggressor Mirages. Similarly, the French have defended a strike package of MiG-27s against our aggressor aircraft. The IAF has had a close look at the French refuelling their jets ... The French have also flown in a MiG-21 trainer and a MiG-23 U.

3. The results have so far been mixed for the IAF. In the initial phase of the exercises, most of our Mirages were blown away by the French in BVR combat. IAF pilots tell me French tactics in the BVR regime are different and more flexible than ours. The high number of French kills prompted the IAF to review its exercise tactics at the end of the very first day of exercises ... and in the last few days the IAF has been claiming its share of kills. The IAF says it is more than a match for the French Air Force in WVR combat ... the French have also been impressed with our dog fighting skills. In the last couple of days ... following a change in our tactics, our pilots have been calling "Vic 1" ("Fox 1" for the French) announcing a R-530D launch at more or less the same time as the French. The missiles of both planes fly past each other ... the kill being "granted" on the basis of a detailed debrief at the end of the exercises.

Thats it for the moment

Vishnu Som
NDTV/STAR News

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Re: Indo-French exercises: Mixed results

Postby Umrao » 13 Feb 2003 08:25

thanks for a very good brief brief. Yes we are learning.

Hum honge kaam yaab , dil me thoda hai viswas..

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Re: Indo-French exercises: Mixed results

Postby Anurag » 13 Feb 2003 08:34

Originally posted by Vishnu Som:
Hi ...

Got back from Gwalior yesterday ... after a look at the Indo-French air combat exercises. A couple of observations based on what I was told:

1. The French are flying an older generation Mirage 2000 ... NOT the 2000-5. The 4 Mirages they flew in have the RDI radar ... slightly more advanced than what India operates.

2..... IAF pilots tell me French tactics in the BVR regime are different and more flexible than ours.
Q1. Can you be specific with the specification of the Mirage the French were flying.

Q2. Could you elaborate on the flexibility rules opted by the two Air Forces.

Thanks!

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Re: Indo-French exercises: Mixed results

Postby Prateek » 13 Feb 2003 08:37

If we could learn so much with the French flying, slightly outdated M2K's, just imagine how much we will learn if we pitch our Rambha's against the Eagles. I think India should not waste any time for the combined India-US excerises involving our Su-30MKI's and F-15. Way to go !

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Re: Indo-French exercises: Mixed results

Postby Mohan Raju » 13 Feb 2003 08:37

Yes we are learning.
Spinster: Yes, that's the most important thing. But there's something else at least as important: IAF pilots are learning aerial refuelling procedures. This has got to be smoething new for most of them.

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Re: Indo-French exercises: Mixed results

Postby shiv » 13 Feb 2003 08:46

Hopefully - I won't sink into banality :eek:

The ability to kill at a distance has always taken warfighting tech forward. Bows and arrows gave an edge over the sword, cannons and guns superceded that. The aircraft with guns and bombs gave a longer reach than cannons and guns alone.

BVR IS the way to go, but requires investment in terms of "eyes and ears" to see the other guy sooner. I expect that in the local subcontinental context - with huge areas to cover even as the expense and investment of shifting to largely BVR (as the US has done) is going on - we may continue to face hostile aircraft in point defence mode over enemy territory, retaining the need for WVR combat for some time to come.

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Re: Indo-French exercises: Mixed results

Postby Priyank » 13 Feb 2003 08:50

In case people have not noticed, the Gwalior AFB houses not only the 1st and 7th Mirage 2000 squadrons, but also TACDE. I think this was more than just a formal joint training exercise. Serious lessons will be learnt, new tactics will be developed and implemented in training programs.

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Re: Indo-French exercises: Mixed results

Postby JTull » 13 Feb 2003 08:50

There is not too much to learn during air to air refuelling demonstrations as our pilots would have all the time in the world to practice once the tankers are delivered.

But I'm very excited to hear about what our guys are learning wrt BVR combat. BVR tactics will not usually be shared by anyone and lot of practice is needed to learn even one new tactic. Our BVR experience is very limited as only Bis and MKI have such capabilities. Any new tactic learnt from French in this regard could easily be shared across our fighters and would bring about the most qualitative improvement across IAF's skills.

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Re: Indo-French exercises: Mixed results

Postby ldev » 13 Feb 2003 09:06

Posted by Vishnu Som:
Quote:
_____________________________________________
The results have so far been mixed for the IAF. In the initial phase of the exercises, most of our Mirages were blown away by the French in BVR combat. IAF pilots tell me French tactics in the BVR regime are different and more flexible than ours. The high number of French kills prompted the IAF to review its exercise tactics at the end of the very first day of exercises ... and in the last few days the IAF has been claiming its share of kills. The IAF says it is more than a match for the French Air Force in WVR combat ... the French have also been impressed with our dog fighting skills
________________________________________________
Underscores two points I made a few days ago on the JSF offer and the SU-30MKI demo.

1. The most agile fighters and the best trained pilots can be at the mercy of superior BVR technology.

2. The aircraft, its support systems and crew training must be validated by exercising with other airforces.

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Re: Indo-French exercises: Mixed results

Postby Rangudu » 13 Feb 2003 09:42

Priyank,

You are correct. See this detailed report on Ex. Garuda.

Indian, French pilots in skill show

Diving out of the blue and roaring over the airfield from the northeast to the southwest, the two Jaguar deep penetration strike aircraft — bombers — of the Indian Air Force fly low, 'drop' their deadly payload, record a 'hit' and climb away in a flash of orange afterburner.

From the roof of the observation post, it is as if the Jaguars are coming straight at the forehead at supersonic speed, the roar following them like the black smoke they trail behind.

But before that, the six-foot-something Captain Franck 'Terra' Moly of the French Air Force in his Mirage 2000 has locked-in in his radar one of two IAF's Mirage 2000s escorting the Jaguars, recording a 'kill' from beyond visual range.

Here, in Air Force Station, Gwalior, home to the IAF's Tactical Air Combat Development Establishment, TACDE, 'claims' and 'kills' are simulated and recorded on 16-mm film and French onboard video cameras. This is where lessons from Kargil and Kosovo are being learnt and shared.

It is the Indians, with their last real combat experience during Operation Safed Sagar — the Kargil war of 1999 — who share skills in high altitude weapons delivery and close combat; the French impress with their knowledge of Nato exercises and air defence during the Kosovo war.

This morning, the Gwalior station — the base for the IAF's two Mirage squadrons, No. 1 Tigers and No. 7 Battleaxes — was the designated target for the two Jaguars. Two Mirage 2000s were tasked to escort the Jaguars across an imaginary border and attack the airstrip. The 'Battleaxes' saw action last year, too, when they were tasked to 'take out' a Pakistani intrusion in the Gurez-Macchil sector near the Line of Control. Two Mirages from the French Air Force's Tiger Squadron based in Cambresis, Northern France, were put on CAP — Combat Air Patrol — jargon for aircraft whose duty it is to protect static strategic installations.

The French Mirages were to intercept the Indian formation, primarily targeting the Jaguars. The Indian Mirages were to protect the Jaguars so that they complete their mission.

In the second mission, the roles for the escorts and CAP are reversed. The Jaguars, temporarily flown in for TACDE from their home in Gorakhpur, continue in the deep strike role. This time the French escort the Jaguars, the Indian Mirages are tasked to intercept.

It is day four of Exercise Garuda, the first exercise involving fighters from two air forces in India in 40 years. The level of the exercise is being steadily ramped-up. On day one, the Indians were given a demonstration of air-to-air refuelling; day two saw two aircraft in strike formation familiarising with the area and on day three, two escorts were pitted against two interceptors.

"It is their international experience that we lack. Also, it is their ability to lock-in and fire from beyond visual range," says Squadron Leader N.K. Choudary. The Mirages of both air forces are loaded with similar weapon systems. The Indians have also innovated by marrying the Russian R-73 missiles to the French-built Mirages. But the advanced radar of the French allow them to fire at aerial targets from ranges upto 20 km.

"In close combat, we are generally better. But you need to get close enough to combat," says a flight lieutenant with the IAF's Tigers.

In its immediate security environment, the IAF's Mirages are equipped A4M, fighter-pilot jargon again for "all aspect air to air missiles", just as much of the Pakistani aircraft is. The French make BVR (beyond visual range interceptions) and programme their missiles to fire on locking-in.

"We are not here to assess the performance of the IAF's pilots," says Captain Sebastion 'Dodi' Vallette, the badge on his overall pocket reads "Nato Tigers". "We're here to understand."

In the five presentations each side will be making to the other, pilots and fighter ground crew will exchange notes on their experiences in Kargil and Kosovo, Air to Air Refuelling, BVR combat and precision guided missiles.

"We have come here to exchange information and build capacity," says the chief of French air staff, Richard Wolsztynski. "There is no other purpose." In the medium-term, the Indian Air Force will be replacing its MiG 21 fleet — the mainstay of its air defence. A possible induction of more Mirage 2000s from France is being considered but there are other aircraft, too, in competition for the segment such as the US-made F-16s.

"Our experience with the Mirage 2000s have been very good and almost fault-free," says Air Marshal Ajit Bhavnani, senior air staff officer, Central Air Command, who was coordinator for the IAF's Mirage programme since the Dassault Aviation built multi-role fighters were first inducted in 1985.


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Re: Indo-French exercises: Mixed results

Postby Cybaru » 13 Feb 2003 09:42

Vishnu,

Thanks for all the good info. Couple of questions.

1.Is there any follow on exercise that we are working towards ? Here or in france ?

2. Did the indians get a chance to refuel ? I presume these were all single seater mirages that were visiting us.

3. Would it be possible to share how long each exercise was ?

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Re: Indo-French exercises: Mixed results

Postby Div » 13 Feb 2003 09:45

I recall reading the the IAF M2Ks were 'incompatible' with the French tanker.

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Re: Indo-French exercises: Mixed results

Postby Vishnu » 13 Feb 2003 09:45

Anurag:

In answer to your questions ....

1. The Mirage 2000 being flown by the French Air Force has the RDM radar, and MFD displays in the cockpit ... the Cockpit of the Indian Mirage 2000s relies primarily on analogue instrumentation. They also have a different EW suite and associated techniques ... though I failed to notice the external pod. The French jets also have fixed refuelling pods. The method of calibrating kills is also different. The IAF calibrates a "kill" on the basis of a portable GPS device which helps in plotting a track of the aircraft and the gun camera which operates when the trigger is depressed. The French system ... of which I do not have the details ... does not use GPS to follow an exercise.

2. The IAF has described these exercises as being fluid and dynamic. I do know that the rules of engagement permit supersonic flight ... and dog-fighting though the emphasis was on BVR combat. The rules of engagement would necessarily change with each mission. I can personally vouch for the fact that our strike Jags were cleared to fly REALLY low ... maybe 100 feet or so ... One nearly ripped off my head yesterday when it simulated a raid on Gwalior air base.

Thanks

Vishnu

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Re: Indo-French exercises: Mixed results

Postby AnantD » 13 Feb 2003 09:48

Posted by Bansal:
Our BVR experience is very limited as only Bis and MKI have such capabilities.
Isn't the Matra 530D considered a BVR missile? Maybe the IAF dosen't practice BVR, and the 2000H model dosen't have the most potent radar, but I'm surprised that they didn't start using BVR until the last day when they actually did the Fox1 vs Vick 1 and the missiles actually crossed each other.

Reminds me of the time our Mig21 used a R-60 to down the Pakistani Atlantique and disabled it allowing it to crash land just at the Kutch border. In hind-sight, if a medium range missile like an Alamo were resorted to first, the Atlantique might have exploded right over Indian territory.

Why do these guys take risks with WVR missiles when BVR is the safest. WVR should be a last resort when the bigger missiles are gone!!

Its probably something to do with cost and habits die hard.

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Re: Indo-French exercises: Mixed results

Postby Philip » 13 Feb 2003 09:48

Can someone enlighten me on this.I thougt that the Mirage deal for India signed years ago envisoned the replacement of the RDM radars with the more capable RDI.I have been under the impression that many of our Mirages have been modified with the RDI.You live and learn!

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Re: Indo-French exercises: Mixed results

Postby Cybaru » 13 Feb 2003 09:50

Originally posted by AnantD:
Why do these guys take risks with WVR missiles when BVR is the safest. WVR should be a last resort when the bigger missiles are gone!!

Its probably something to do with cost and habits die hard.
I suspect in the case of atlantique, they probably wanted to escort it to base and that I think is the right way to do it. Only when the aircraft doesn't follow order, you blow it out and hence the use of R-60.

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Re: Indo-French exercises: Mixed results

Postby Vishnu » 13 Feb 2003 09:53

I was under the impression that our Mirages had the RDM radar modified to fire the R-530 ... but the range characteristics of the radar remain essentially the same.


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Re: Indo-French exercises: Mixed results

Postby karana » 13 Feb 2003 09:59

they are french for sure

can anyone say conclusively whether IAF Mirages have RDM or RDI radar???

thanks

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Re: Indo-French exercises: Mixed results

Postby Priyank » 13 Feb 2003 09:59

Vishnu,

Any stuff on the Israeli Ehud ACMI that the IAF is supposed to have?

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Re: Indo-French exercises: Mixed results

Postby Anurag » 13 Feb 2003 10:22

Sridhar, This is for you...

http://www.rediff.com/news/2003/feb/13iaf.htm

"By the end of February, the IAF will acquire two IL-78s midair refuellers and by the yearend, India hopes to have six refuellers, which will initially be based in Agra."

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Re: Indo-French exercises: Mixed results

Postby Vishnu » 13 Feb 2003 10:27

No word on the Ehud ACMI ... but I do know the call signs of the French pilots in the pic!!

The guy on the left ... is "Lobster." The pilot on the right is "Terra."

One more small detail ... the French pilots refused to strap on a portable GPS which the IAF requested ... they said is wasn't cleared to be carried ... they were thoroughly professional.

I would also like to make it clear ... that none of this is a reflection on our pilots ... I spoke to several French pilots ... everyone was extremely impressed by our piloting skills ... and the hours put in by our pilots on the M-2000 was the same as theirs.

One of the young IAF pilots told me ..."BVR is a problem but if they come in close, then its Balle Balle."

One more thing ... the Mig-23 U reminds me of the Russian 130 mm gun we used in Kargil ... Its makes more noise than one can imagine ... Saw a two aircraft takeoff of the MiG-23 U yesterday ... awesome noise ... except one of the jets rotated too soon ... and was nose up for a few seconds before his main undercarriage actually lifted off the ground!!

Cheers

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Re: Indo-French exercises: Mixed results

Postby Anurag » 13 Feb 2003 10:39

Vishnu,

Any idea since the IAF were aware(at least I hope) of the radar capabilities the French had, why did they not throw in one odd Mig-29's. I always thought our 29 pilots were well experienced with using BVR during combat, which was also proven during kargil.

Thanks Again!

Anurag

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Re: Indo-French exercises: Mixed results

Postby Rajit » 13 Feb 2003 10:40

Vishnu

Great info....(quite) a few questions!! :

1. Krishnaswamy has been quoted as saying that the IAF Mirages have completed flight refuelling modifications..could you get visual ID of the same?

2. WVR, were the Indian Mirages simulating Magic IIs or R73s since they can carry the latter as well??

3. Was WVR only Mirage V Mirage or were other IAF types like Mig 21 / Mig 29 also there for it?

4. Old French Mirages wouldnt be MICA capable, so does the IAF plan to develop BVR tactics to counter MICA/ AMRAAM capable "bandits" or was there a feeling that the learnings were enought to counter PAF / PLAAF threats.

5. What was the "experience" profile of the French and Indian pilots..was it Master Green Eagles club only or were there rookies around ( assuming rookies are posted to IAF Mirage )squadrons.

Thanks in advance!!

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Re: Indo-French exercises: Mixed results

Postby Rajit » 13 Feb 2003 10:50

Anurag

Mig 29 BVR capabilties..check out this link..its a bit of a cold shower...

http://www.codeonemagazine.com/archives/1995/articles/jul_95/july2a_95.html

(sorry to go off topic)

George J

Re: Indo-French exercises: Mixed results

Postby George J » 13 Feb 2003 11:01

Vishnu:
Thanks for the inside insights.

Rest:
We need to keep in mind that Garuda is slightly too sanitized, M2K vs M2K is great to compare the capeablities of the same type of a/c of the IAF and FrAF. Now if the same CAP was run by a Mig-29S what would have happened? Or the same strike package was escorted Su-30K or our "mini-AWACS" what would have happened? 530D vs R-77 ?? ;) Also it would be instructive for us to note how many CAP's were done by IAF M2K during Kargil and how many by the Fulcrums, who escorted what. I think the IAF is just testing the waters here.

I am sure that TACDE will use this experience to refine techniques for our more serious BVR assets too. Dont worry have curry.

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Re: Indo-French exercises: Mixed results

Postby Anurag » 13 Feb 2003 11:03

Originally posted by Rajit Ojha:
Anurag

Mig 29 BVR capabilties..check out this link..its a bit of a cold shower...

http://www.codeonemagazine.com/archives/1995/articles/jul_95/july2a_95.html

(sorry to go off topic)
I don't know the IAF MiG-29S is suppose to be something!

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Re: Indo-French exercises: Mixed results

Postby Rupak » 13 Feb 2003 11:18

Originally posted by George J:
Dont worry have curry.
Good one, GJ!

Vishnu
Am in Delhi. Lets get together!

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Re: Indo-French exercises: Mixed results

Postby Anurag » 13 Feb 2003 11:31

Originally posted by rupak:
Vishnu
Am in Delhi. Lets get together!
hello Surji! :D

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Re: Indo-French exercises: Mixed results

Postby Vishnu » 13 Feb 2003 11:44

Rupak: Call soon ... Vishnu

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Re: Indo-French exercises: Mixed results

Postby Rajit » 13 Feb 2003 11:47

Just went thru a few news reports and am intrigued by the consistently candid admissions from the IAF crowd about their "BVR" inadequacy.

The assertions by some pilots that they have "only now" started practicing BVR flies in the face of facts...the Mig 23 in the early 80s was the first BVR platform acquired and surely the Mirages which followed a couple of years later with their 530Ds werent sitting around.

Conclusion, factor in the comments about the "french having better radars than us" and this seems to be subtle propaganda by the IAF to get the Govt to relase money for radar upgrades!

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Re: Indo-French exercises: Mixed results

Postby Sree » 13 Feb 2003 11:59

Originally posted by Rajit Ojha:
Anurag

Mig 29 BVR capabilties..check out this link..its a bit of a cold shower...

http://www.codeonemagazine.com/archives/1995/articles/jul_95/july2a_95.html

...
Rajit, Anurag:

Code One is a Lockheed-Martin PR magazine. It is hardly the place where you will find the most objective review of the MiG-29, particularly in comparison with Lockheed-Martin's own F-16.

As some of the others say -- let's not read too much into a few 2 v 2s that our boys didn't come out on top of. There is no doubt, it would have been an enormously valuable experience for the IAF; and all the more so if it showed up shortcomings in our doctrine or practice. (There would have been no value at all in an exercise that was so sanitised it ended up with both sides saying blandly complimentary things about each other.) And if it serves as a wake-up call to whoever in the Ministry of Finance approves financing requests, so much the better.

Hope both sides enjoyed it and learned; and may there be many more such ... regards,

Sree

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Re: Indo-French exercises: Mixed results

Postby Sree » 13 Feb 2003 12:11

Originally posted by Vishnu Som:
... except one of the jets rotated too soon ... and was nose up for a few seconds before his main undercarriage actually lifted off the ground!!

Cheers
Vishnu, first, thanks for all the info, and for starting this thread.

About the MiG that rotated too soon -- did you actually hear one of the pilots make that comment? There are sometimes valid reasons, having to do with the aircraft's load or configuration on that particular sortie, to keep the mainwheels on the runway for a couple of seconds even after rotate.

Thanks again, and regards,

Sree

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Re: Indo-French exercises: Mixed results

Postby khukri » 13 Feb 2003 12:19

Originally posted by Rajit Ojha:
Anurag

Mig 29 BVR capabilties..check out this link..its a bit of a cold shower...

http://www.codeonemagazine.com/archives/1995/articles/jul_95/july2a_95.html

(sorry to go off topic)
One significant point though Rajit, the German Fulcrums are the earlier MiG29A model. The C model - which India has apparently addressed some of the avionics shortcomings in the A model (I'll leave it to the other better informed denizens of this forum to elaborate!). Furthermore, the planned upgrades including western avionics will address some more. In addition, the PAF flies the earlier A model F16 - which as the article states, has some shortcomings vs the F16C that was being used in the assessments referred to in the article.

Unfortunately the LCA has not addressed the issue of pilot visibility a la F16 - the pilot's view is limited by the cockpit position.

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Re: Indo-French exercises: Mixed results

Postby vverma » 13 Feb 2003 13:33

I was always under the impression that BVR was limited to pressing "fire" buttons on the joystick but this exercise makes it clear that even after having similar equipment, one man's BVR tactics/capability are not the same as others. Also, the 20km number for firing missiles seems too close in.

On the IAF side, the entire IAF/PAF battle strategy was based on BVR capability. What consequences does it have for that combat? On the PAF side, the strategy was on dog fighting skills but this report states that IAF has a leg up on "Lobster" and "Terra". Since IAF and PAF haven't met up for three decades, what should PAF derive from these exercises?

Also, people here were talking about Mig-29 having better capabilities. That's accepted but isn't the whole point of this exercise to develop tactics and capability. If the Mirage quadron is getting their ass kicked, then won't other squadrons have the same problems. Or does squadron have its own tactics?

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Re: Indo-French exercises: Mixed results

Postby Rajit » 13 Feb 2003 14:26

As for the India Mig 29s avionics fit being state of the art...cosider a bit of intrapolative logic...we werent satisfied with the original Su 30 fit - a later aircraft than the Mig 29- and spent a good 2 years getting the avionics fit together.

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Re: Indo-French exercises: Mixed results

Postby Jagan » 13 Feb 2003 14:49

Very interesting thread - thanks a ton for this Vishnu.

Are there any follow up exericises with the french planned?

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Re: Indo-French exercises: Mixed results

Postby daulat » 13 Feb 2003 17:15

Originally posted by vverma:
one man's BVR tactics/capability are not the same as others.
indeed not. there are many variables. how is the CAP controlled - ground/air? if air then by self/others? also lots to do with the radar and missile characteristics and envelopes. size and composition of units. location, ECM, ECCM, etc., etc., BVR is much more like 3D chess (in my limited understanding of the problem) than a bare knuckle fight. apparently manouvers rarely exceed 3G. If I am not wrong except for the USAF most other Nato air forces assumed they couldn't mix it with 29's and 27/30's so would be better off at long range

given that most nato air forces practice endlessly for BVR engagements at long range (i.e. classical threat) it makes sense that they are better at it than WVR combat

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Re: Indo-French exercises: Mixed results

Postby Sanjay » 13 Feb 2003 19:05

Gentlemen, I contacted Air Marshal Jayal and he confirmed we are using older RDM radars on the M2Ks !

The IAF M2Ks are the only ones of the early export batch cleared for Super 530D - others with Greece, Egypt etc. use Super 530F.

However, AdA RDI radars are vastly superior and can lock on at at least 20-30km greater range. In addition, it is possible that the radars have been further upgraded to permit theoretical Mica compatibility as a number of Mirage-2000C were so refitted. Specifically the 1/2 and 2/2 at Dijon were simply Mirage-2000C upgrades to Mirage-2000-5F.

A telling comment by an IAF pilot was made in the Times of India:
"We are inducting active BVRs in our force only now ... "

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Re: Indo-French exercises: Mixed results

Postby S Bajwa » 13 Feb 2003 20:20

Kewl.. Thread.... Thank you Vishnu Som... Keep up the good work.

another Defense News "Pakistan government invite tenders for Brown fabric paint after export refusal by China "


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