The prestigious Red Flag exercise 2016, has concluded its advanced aerial combat training between the Indian Air Force (IAF), the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy.
"The objective of this intercontinental deployment was not only to showcase IAF capability in undertaking Integrated Air Ops but also to imbibe operational lessons from the exercise engagements which will help us add more teeth to our overall war waging capabilities," said Group Captain H Assudani, team leader of the Indian contingent, in a statement.
The Red Flag exercise was held from April 28 to May 13 featuring 12 aircraft from the IAF — four Su-30MKIs, which are India's frontline air-superiority aircraft, four Jaguars, two IL-78 mid-air refuellers and two C-17 Globemaster-III strategic airlift aircraft.
The multiple simulated combat scenarios in the Red Flag exercise reportedly had realistic settings, with the participating forces divided into Red Force (defensive component) and Blue Force (offensive component).
The Blue Force is said to have comprised of the 18th Aggressor Squadron with its F-16s. The Red Force apparently included the IAF contingent along with other aircraft from U.S. Air Force, which included F-15, F-16 and F-22, and from U.S. Navy that flew F-18 aircraft.
The statement noted that the Su-30MKIs provided cover and the Jaguar DARIN II aircraft performed integrated strike missions, with both performing "exceptionally well." Among the missions involved in the Red Flag exercise, three were commanded by IAF.
For the first time, IAF also flew as part of the Red Force alongside the 18th Aggressor Squadron.
The maintenance team of the IAF had to face harsh weather conditions, with sub-zero temperatures, during most of the exercise period. Even at these temperatures, the team managed to keep 100 percent serviceability of all platforms. The maintenance team even earned praise from everyone for their "out-of-the-box thinking," said Cdr Pratyush Anand, SEO of the Su-30MKI Squadron.
The IAF contingent is expected to return to India by the last week of May. The Su-30MKIs will be participating in an aerial exercise in with UAE Air Force called "Desert Eagle II" on its way back to India.