US Air Force wants IAF regularly in Red Flag exercise

August 22nd, 2008 - 3:52 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 22 (IANS) Impressed by the skill and prowess of the Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots, the US Air Force (USAF) Friday invited India to become a regular participant in the multi-national Red Flag exercise, an official said.The Red Flag-08, considered one of the toughest military exercises, at the Air Force base Nellis in Nevada, US, entered its final phase following the crawl, walk and run pattern of exercise.

“IAF is a world class air force with great aircraft and great leadership. It is a great training opportunity for USAF and IAF to integrate our assets in training environment. We would like to have IAF here as a regular participant,” Captain Marcus ‘Spike’ Wilson of the USAF said from Nellis in his appreciation of team IAF.

Though India has participated in many US-led war games, this is the first time it is taking part in the Red Flag. 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 Red Flag will feature air force contingents from France, South Korea, India and the US.

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’.

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.

“During the run phase of the exercise, a present day air campaign is replicated, in which the Aggressors’ F-16 and F-15s, are the air-to-air and air-to-ground threats to the Blue Land and its forces.

“Surface to Air Missiles (SAMs) such as SA2, SA3, SA6 and SA8 along with long and short-range quick reaction missiles are always present to neutralize the friendly Blue forces. The Red land always keeps shifting their SAM sites making it difficult for the Blue Forces,” IAF spokesman Wing Commander Mahesh Upasini said from Nellis.

The strike packages comprising the Sukhoi-30s flying along with the US Air Force F-15s and F-16s, Prowlers of US Navy, Rafales of the French Air Force and F-15s of the Korean Air Force remove or eliminate the enemy fields, aircraft and SAM sites.

“An interesting aspect of the air war between the Red and the Blue Forces is that the aggressors use all possible means to gather intelligence from the Blue Forces,” Upasini said.

The air campaigns, whose success depends on network centricity, posed a challenge to the IAF to adapt to the US Air Force network and also to carry out “stand alone” tasks simultaneously.

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