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EX Desert Flag VI: IAF fighter jets to participate in the multilateral exercise in the Gulf region


Participating in such a drill which will have diverse fighter jets will help provide the IAF a unique opportunity to enhance its interoperability and operational capabilities, as well as exchange knowledge, and experience.


For the first time ever, Indian Air Force fighter jets will be participating in Exercise Desert Flag-VI in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The three week long drill starting from March 3- 27 at Al-Dhafra air base, will have air forces of the USA, France, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Bahrain and the host country UAE.


More about Ex Desert Flag


It is an annual multinational large force employment warfare exercise which is hosted by UAE’s Air Force in the Gulf Region.


It will be for the first time ever that IAF will be taking part in an air drill at a multilateral level and in the Gulf Region.


According to the IAF, there will be six Su-30 MKI, two C-17 and one IL-78 tanker aircraft which will be deployed for this drill and for providing support for induction/ de-induction of the IAF 125 member strong contingent, the C-17 Globemaster III is going to be deployed.


Going directly from India to the UAE Air Force base, the Su-30 MKI aircraft will undertake long range ferry with aerial refueling support from IL-78 tanker aircraft.


What is the aim of multilateral drill?


To provide operational exposure to the participating forces while training them to undertake simulated air combat operations in a controlled environment.


The air forces from other countries will also get a chance to boost their operational capabilities and also mutual exchange of best practices.


Participating in such a drill which will have diverse fighter jets will help provide the IAF a unique opportunity to enhance its interoperability and operational capabilities, as well as exchange knowledge, and experience.


According to experts being part of such a drill will also boost international relations.


From other air forces fighters like the F-15s and F-16s from the US, the French Rafales and Mirage-2000s and the Russian-origin Sukhois taking part. IAF successfully integrated different fighters into its network-centric operations. These include the French Rafales, Mirage-2000 and Jaguars and from Russia Sukhois and MiGs and is now in the process of inducting more Light Combat Aircraft made in India `Tejas’.


According to reports countries including Kuwait, Egypt, Jordan and Greece are expected to be the “observers” for the three-week war games which are going to be coordinated by the Air warfare Centre of the Al-Dhafra air base.


Both offensive and defensive operations with AWACS (airborne warning and control systems) and flight-refueling aircraft in a realistic combat setting will be part of the drill.


Has the IAF participated in multilateral drills before?


Yes. The IAF has in the last five years participated in multilateral drills. These include in 2016 the American ‘Red Flag’; the Israeli ‘Blue Flag’ in 2017 and the Australian ‘Pitch Black’ drill in 2018.


Why is IAF part of this drill?


Besides the maritime cooperation with the Gulf countries, India has also been focusing on enhancing cooperation in the air Force as well as the Army level.


The IAF has the experience of operating in different terrains like the deserts of Rajasthan or the mountainous terrains or plains and the Indian Ocean Region.


S: Financial Express

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