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IAF pilots to pit their skills against US F-16s
November 01, 2005 00:47 IST
The flying skills of Indian Air Force pilots would be put to test when they come up against the American Air Force's F-16 Fighting Falcons backed by Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems, over the Kalaikunda airspace in West Bengal next month.
Though the IAF pilots have proved themsleves earlier against the F-16s, billed as the world's most advanced flying killer machines, the joint exercises over Kalaikunda would be be the first time that Indian aviators would be matching the Americans in an AWACS environment.
The US Air Force would, for the first time, be fielding a complete squadron of the fighting falcons to practice missions on dissimilar Air Combat Manoeuvering and Large Force Management in the Beyond Visual Range regime, according to US officials.
The 12-day exercise beginning November 7 would entail day and night flying. IAF officials saw this as an opportunity for the pilots to prepare for induction of India's own AWACS system by 2007.
While the US Air Force would fly in their F-16s from bases in Japan, the IAF would like to match most of its frontline fighters against the falcons by fielding SU-30MKI, Mirage-2000, MIG-27 and the upgraded MIG-21 Bisons.