Monday, October 11, 2010
It's Sukhoi vs Eurofighter as IAF 'takes on' RAF
NEW DELHI: Top-notch fighters and other aircraft from India and UK will match their combat skills in the `Indra-Dhanush' joint exercise at Kalaikunda airbase in West Bengal later this month.
While the British Royal Air Force will deploy their spanking new Eurofighter jets for the exercise slated to begin from October 20, the IAF fleet will be led by the `air dominance' Sukhoi-30MKI fighters.
"The exercise will be held in an AWACS (airborne warning and control systems) environment, with air defence being a major thrust area. We will be fielding different types of our fighters," said a senior official.
Both the Indian and British forces are also expected to use their mid-air refuelling aircraft, like the IL-78 and VC-10 tankers, during the combat manoeuvres.
"The aim of the joint exercise is to learn from each other and enhance mutual operational understanding. With every exercise, IAF has gained valuable experience and gained respect as a highly-professional and motivated force," the official added.
The exercise comes at a time when the $10.4 billion project to acquire 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) for IAF is in the final stages of selection process.
Apart from Eurofighter, the other five contenders in the hotly-contested race to bag the lucrative MMRCA project are the F/A-18 `Super Hornet' and F-16 `Falcon' (both US), Gripen (Swedish), Rafale (French) and MiG-35 (Russian).
A major Indo-UK defence deal has been the `Hawk' AJT (advanced jet trainer) project. As reported earlier, India is going in for another 57 Hawks as a "follow-on" order to the ongoing Rs 8,000 crore AJT project, finalised in March 2004 with BAE Systems, under which IAF is already getting 66 Hawks.