The exercise that began with a series of 1vs1 sorties, reached its crescendo with a highly complex conceivable scenario – a 6vs6 aerial combat involving 4 x Su-30 MKIs, 4 x F3 Tornadoes, 2 x Typhoons and 2 x GR9 Sea Harriers of the Royal Navy. Also airborne were an IL-78 MKI air-to-air refueller and an E3D Sentry AWACS aircraft in the vicinity of the exercise.
Air Chief Marshal FH Major, Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Indian Air Force (IAF) who is on an official tour to UK currently, was present at RAF Waddington to see the exercise culminate and meet the participating IAF team members. Air Chief Marshal Sir Clive Loader, Commander-in-Chief (CinC) Air Command, RAF accompanied the CAS during the visit.
This was the first time that the IAF carried out an exercise anywhere in UK. It was also an exercise where the IAF Su-30 MKI’s maiden arrival over the European sky was keenly awaited by thousands of aviation aficionados and spotters, who thronged the perimeter of the airbase unfailingly on a daily basis, all through the exercise duration. This was also an opportunity that provided social and cultural interaction between the two countries.
The visit by the IAF team also coincided with the Waddington International Air Show and the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) at Fairford, within a span of two weeks. IAF participation at the two events were a coup of sorts for the organisers. Having been adjudged the ‘best static display’ at Waddington air show, expectations are already soaring high at the RIAT, the world’s biggest air show.
The exercise wasn’t about winners or losers, yet both sides ended on a winning note. “It was an excellent learning curve for our pilots who will go back with a lot of experience” said the Indian Air Chief. He also thanked the Government and the RAF in England for hosting the IAF. The RAF C-in-C termed the exercise as an ‘outstanding success’.
Earlier, Station Commander RAF Leeming, Group Captain E Stringer while briefing the visiting CAS stated that the RAF had adopted a ‘building-block’ approach to meet future IAF training and coalition aspirations. “The exercise achieved all its aims and objectives” – he further stated. Summing up on the RAF experience he said that a major outcome of the exercise was the appreciation of the fact that the two Air Forces actually “see the world through similar eyes”, and that there were many “commonalities” in the tactical procedures of the two air forces, thereby laying a foundation for further RAF-IAF interactions.
Photos Copyright Indian Air Force