NEW DELHI: India is sending its frontline Su 30 MKI air superiority fighters as well as the Jaguar deep penetration attack aircraft for the most complex air exercise with US forces in Alaska next year.
The prestigious ‘Red Flag’ exercise will also see NATO forces taking part in war games that will have a focus on special operations.
Sources have told ET that the Indian air force will be sending a 12 aircraft team to the US in April that would include four each of the Su 30 and Jaguar fighters, besides two C 17 tactical lift aircraft and IL 78 midair refulers each. “The final plan is in place and 176 personnel from the Indian side will take part. A special focus will be on carrying out air operations in an environment where troops are also functioning closely on the ground,” an official involved in the exercise told ET.
The Red Flag would be the most complex aerial war game between the two nations and would include Aerial Early Warning aircraft from NATO forces as well as a small delegation from Denmark. India has once again refrained from taking its Aerial early warning aircraft for the overseas exercise.
The US side is expected to take part with its cutting edge fighters, including the F 22 Raptor. Red Flag is a showcase aerial exercise that features the best pilots and aircraft from around the world. India was to take part in a 2013 edition of the war game which was abruptly called off after a series of budget cuts by Washington to the US military training program.
The last time the Indian Air Force took part in an exercise of this scale was at the Nellis Red Flag in 2008 where the Su 30 MKI fighters featured, crossing swords with advanced western fighters for the first time. Sending aircraft for such an exercise has to be carefully planned, particularly due to the high expenses involved.
By some estimates, the budget for the exercise could well exceed Rs 100 crore.