An IDC Analysis


New Delhi, 03 November 2005

After the defence minister signed the Defence Framework with USA, the Indo-American defence cooperation is on a high and it looks certain that the USS Trenton, a 19000 ton LPD will be with the Indian Navy if all is equal. It will be the largest warship the Navy has acquired after the two carriers and as analysis IDC hopes HRD of the Navy keeps up with recruitment for the large induction. There is news that a few Indian Navy pilots have left for USA for training on USN carriers so that they can land on INS Vikramaditya (Gorshkov).

Now a joint IAF–USAF exercise is in the offing at Air Force Station, Kalaikunda from 07–19 Nov 05. Last year a similar exercise was held at AF Station Gwalior. The scope of the exercise has been increased this year to involve larger force levels and USA decided to change from F-15s to F-16s to pitch them and do well and also tempt the IAF to choose the F-16s in their quest for 126 fighter jet selection –– though the IAF is keen on the Mirage 2000 V. The US is also bringing in the E2 Sentry AWACS and that should be great exposure for the IAF, as the strategic scenario will change when the Phalcon Awacs arrive from IAI Israel next year.

Participating forces include a squadron of F-16s from a USAF base in Japan and various types of IAF fighter aircraft like the SU-30MKI, Mirage-2000, BISON and MiG-27. For the first time the AWACS aircraft will participate in an air exercise in India. This experience will go a long way in preparing the IAF aircrew in operating in an AWACS environment before the induction of the IAF AWACS into the service. The tanker fleet will participate during the induction and de-induction of forces for the exercise. The practice missions will include dissimilar Air Combat Manoeuvring (ACM) and Large Force Engagement (LFE) in the Beyond Visual Range (BVR) regime.

The aim of the joint exercise is to enhance mutual operational understanding and refine procedures for future joint exercises between the two Air Forces. The primary objective of such exercises is to familiarise with each other’s operational, technical and administrative practices. The IAF, in the recent past, had participated in joint exercises with the French and Republic of Singapore Air Forces and had given a good account of its operational potential.

In preparation for the exercise, the Air Force Station has been brought up to international standards. An initial planning conference, between IAF and USAF, was held in May 05 and a final planning conference was held in Sep 05 at Kalaikunda.

In the recent past the IAF has started participating in multi national exercises abroad and has also, for the last few years, been hosting international exercises in the country. For the first time, IAF deployed some of its fighters for multinational exercises in Alaska, South Africa and France during the past year. The IAF transport and helicopter fleets have also been deployed on foreign shores on UN missions earlier. With every such exercise, the IAF grows in stature and Air Forces of many friendly nations are showing a keen interest in exercising with the Indian Air Force.

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