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India to have a 'Red Flag' war game of its own soon

NEW DELHI: India will soon have an advanced air war game in a multi-national setting on the lines of the US' Red Flag exercise in which the Indian Air Force (IAF) participated this August for the first time.

"Yes, we are working towards having a multi-national air force gaming, which will be quite advanced, providing the best of air battle scenarios," IAF's vice chief Air Marshal P V Naik told reporters here today.

The proposed war game would be held on Indian soil and would have a distinct Indian name, he said, replying to queries on the sidelines of an IAF team's debriefing on the Red Flag exercise here.

The team comprising 91 officers and 156 personnel below officer rank had returned home from the US late last week and are in the process of compiling their experiences at the Red Flag exercise for future reference.

Naik said India went on to participate in the exercise on the invitation from the US Air Force and it was a rarity that a non-NATO country's air force was participating in the exercise that followed NATO standard operating procedures.

However, the Indian contingent "seamlessly integrating" into the US Air Force' operating procedures impressed the Red Flag staff members.

Though the IAF's ability to adapt to new operating environment quickly was at full display at Red Flag, Naik said India's participation at the world's only exercise with near warlike, large force engagement scenarios would be done once in five years. PTI

"The Red Flag happens every quarter in a year, but IAF participating in it was an expensive affair. The Red Flag being a complex exercise, extensive preparation too is needed, which actually unsettles the regular training rhythm of IAF pilots," Naik said. "The process of IAF participation in the Red Flag this August started in February 2007 with the USAF Chief General T Michael Moseley extending an invitation for participation in the coveted exercise," the IAF vice chief added.

The IAF had joined the US, French and South Korean air forces for Red Flag held at the Nellis USAF Base in Nevada State.

Of all the air forces that participated in the exercise, the IAF had the distinction of being the only air force to have about 95 per cent serviceability of all its platforms, be it the eight Su-30 multi role, air superiority, strike fighters, two IL-78 air-to-air refuellers or the lone IL-76 heavy lift transport aircraft.

Red Flag also provided opportunity to the IAF to test its capability to deploy a trans-continental task force of fighters, refuellers and transport aircraft, Group Captain D Chaudhary, IAF's Gwalior-based Tactics and Air Combat Development Establishment (TACDE) Commandant and the team leader for the exercise.

"Yes, IAF does possess the capability for deploying troops and force projection in battle grounds far away from India's mainland if necessary," Naik said to a question
The IAF pilots also gained experience on the USAF's F-16s when the two sides did some half-a-dozen exchange flying with their pilots trying out the Su-30 MKI aircraft. "Of course, the exchange flying sorties were done in non-sensors mode and it was done at USAF base Mountain Home in Idaho State during the work up phase just before the actual Red Flag exercises," Wing Commander G Thomas, commanding officer of the Pune-based 20 Squadron, said.

While the French brought their latest Rafale aircraft, the South Koreans brought their F-15s and the US both their F-15s F-16s to the Red Flag.

Incidentally, F-16 of Lockheed Martin, a US aerospace major, and French Rafale are contenders for IAF's requirement of 126 multi-role combat aircraft.

On their return journey, the IAF team also stopped at Al Dhafra near to Abu Dhabi in United Arab Emirates to participate in the 'Desert Eagle' exercise with the UAE air force.

The Su-30s exercised with the UAE's Mirage-2000s and F-16s during Desert Eagle, the first time India and UAE air forces were exercising together.

"The invitation for Desert Eagle had come while the IAF team to Red Flag was on its way to the US. So during the return journey, the IAF team was exposed to the UAE air force's exercise too," Naik said.


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