IAF joins four-nation Red Flag exercises for first time

August 11th, 2008 - 9:35 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of F-16

New Delhi, Aug 11 (IANS) The Indian Air Force (IAF) is showcasing its skill and prowess at the prestigious four-nation Red Flag-08 military exercise that has begun at the Nellis Air Force Base in the US, an official said Monday. Tough India has participated in many US-led war games, this is the first time it is taking part in the Red Flag, considered one of the toughest military exercises. India has spent around Rs.1 billion ($25 million)for the exercise. The exercise began Aug 10 and India will participate till Aug 24.

“The tough and prestigious Red Flag exercise formally started Aug 10 with a briefing and mission planning by the participating air forces,” Wing Commander Mahesh Upasini said from Nellis.

“We have trained long and hard for this day. It is time to showcase our professionalism,” IAF contingent commander Group Capt. D. Choudhury told the air warriors as the exercise formally commenced. “I have total faith and confidence in you. The world is watching us, so gentlemen lets show them what we are made up of.”

The Red Flag will feature air force contingents from France, South Korea, India and the US.

The IAF has fielded eight Sukhoi-30s, two IL-78 tankers, and IL-76; the French Air Force its Rafale fighter jets, South Korean Air Force its F-15s and the US Air Force has its F-15 and F-16 combat jets.

“The IAF and other visiting air forces along with a large US Air Force element would be part of the friendly ‘Blue Forces’ that would engage in combat with the aggressors - the ‘Red Forces’,” Upasini said.

The Red Forces comprise F-15 and F-16 fighter jets of the 64th and 65th Aggressor squadrons of US Air Force based at Air Force Base Nellis.

“Exercise Red Flag provides a realistic war situation in which the Blue Force pilots will have all possible odds thrown at them… Availability of a large air-to-air range with threat replication contributes to the tremendous training value of the exercise,” Upasini said.

“The replication of the air war would see the IAF’s Sukhoi-30 aircraft participating in suppression of enemy air defence (SEAD) in air-to-air and air-to-ground missions,” Upasini added.

The IL-78 tankers and US Air Force AWACS would be in active support role. The IL-76 would undertake tactical transport operations and large force engagement operations.

During the exercise, a set of Red Flag team forms the `White Force’ and uses high tech instrumentation and mission debrief tools to evaluate the performance of the participants in a clinical and detached manner.

“During the exercise the Blue Force are made to change their plans often to put them under pressure. The White Force watches the entire exercise in real time on monitor screens on ground. Kill removal (removal of the pilots and aircraft assumed shot by the enemy) makes the exercise more realistic,” he explained.

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