Thursday, October 21, 2010

Ex-Indradhanush: War games over Maoist badlands [DAY-2]

KOLKATA: After having successfully staved off an attack by the Red raiders and charting two successful kills, the pilot of the Indian Air Force's Su-30 MKI turned to the Royal Air Force's VC-10 mid-air refueller.

"Permission denied, Blue Two. Raiders still at large," a clipped English accent from the cockpit of the VC-10 responded. The Sukhoi pilot broke away and started a climb in a bid to conserve fuel. He would return to the refueller later. In the meantime, he would try and nail an Eurofighter Typhoon from the Red force.

Actual flying missions of Ex-Indradhanush 2010 started on Wednesday at Air Force Station Kalaikunda after two days of elaborate briefings on standard operating procedures, rules of exercise and familiarisation of the local flying area.

While the RAF has sent in Typhoons, an E3D Sentry and a VC-10, the IAF has fielded Su-30 MKIs, Mirage-2000s, Mig-27s and one of its Phalcon AWACS. This is the first time that the Israeli-made Phalcon is participating in a joint exercise.

"The assets have been combined and divided into the Blue and Red forces. The Red forces are the agressors while the Blue forces are the defending side. The roles of the participants are interchanged throughout the exercise. Both teams consist of RAF and IAF aircraft. The degree of difficulty is being increased by random denial of mid-air refuelling and radar silence. The major highlight of the exercise is the large number of aircraft operating together in limited time and space, putting the skills of pilots and fighter controllers to the test. This is known as Large Force Engagement (LFE) operations," a senior officer said.

He, however, made it clear that the purpose of the exercise is not to pit Indian aircraft against British ones or to evaluate personal skills by encouraging pilots to show-off'.

"Apart from the pilots flying these missions, it is an excellent opportunity for the controllers who would be either controlling these missions or be on board AWACS aircraft as observers. On the technical side too, there will be a number of areas where both the sides can learn from each others maintainance practices, procedures and management of resources with a view to support flying operations," Air Marshal L K Malhotra of the Eastern Air Command said while meeting the participants.

Air Commodore D K Vashist, commander of AFS Kalaikunda said that the aim of the exercise is to enhance mutual understanding and refine procedures.

"During this exercise, specific emphasis will be laid on exposing the controllers (ATC & AWACS) to large force engagements and protection of high-value aerial assets. Another area of emphasis would be the management of logistical needs to move large forces from one part of the world to another," he said.

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