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Home > News > PTI

India's Sukhoi fighters leave RAF in awe

October 13, 2006 19:36 IST

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A year after proving their mettle against the United States Air Force, Indian fighter pilots have now won acclaim from the Royal Air Force after 10 days of intense joint air combat exercises over central India.

"Your fighter pilots are extremely skilled and quick on the button. They can be rated among the best in the world," visiting Air Vice Marshal Christopher N Harper, chief of RAF's strike operations, told reporters in Gwalior at the conclusion of the first Indo-British air force exercise held after a gap of 43 years.

Not only the men, but their flying machines too came in for awe from pilots and commanders of the RAF.

"It is a super fighter and a mean machine," was how one RAF pilot labelled IAF's frontline Sukhoi-30MKI combat jet, which along with Mirage 2000s, MiG-27s and upgraded MiG-21 Bisons participated in the exercise with the RAF's mainstay Tornado F-3 air defence aircraft over the Gwalior skies.

Forseeing the contours of the emerging cooperation between armed forces of not only Britain and India, but other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies, Harper said, "We live in an uncertain world where the antagonist is not known. A coordinated operation by like thinking nations is a must."

Reports had suggested that IAF pilots had out-performed their American counterparts despite flying ageing jets like the MiG-21 during their fighter exercise with the US Air Force last year.

"We do not know where the next conflict will erupt and we are looking for allies all over the world," Harper said, adding that the focus in cooperation among major countries was on evolving 'ways and means' to combat the menace of terrorism.

He said that during the joint exercise, the RAF had been keen on learning from the IAF's experience in the Kargil conflict of 1999, particularly the use of air power in combating armed militants holed up in mountain hideouts.

"We also shared our experiences of the ongoing fighting in Afghanistan and in Iraq," Harper said.

Avoiding giving out information on the kill and miss ratio during the air combat maneuvers, both RAF and IAF officers said the aim of the exercise was to get familiar with each other's operating procedures and to identify areas of commonality.

Though the RAF brought its upgraded Tornados for the joint exercise, Harper said that during the next exercise planned to be held in Britain in September next year, his force might field the new generation Typhoon Eurofighters.

But the machine that had the RAF in awe was the SU-30, with Air Commodore Julian Stinton saying the jet was 'absolutely masterful in dog fights.' Four RAF pilots flew the SU-30s while Indian pilots flew the RAF's Tornados. The high point for the IAF was when the British allowed four fighter controllers to witness operations in the E3D Sentry Air Warning and Control System aircraft during a combat operational flight.

The RAF chief, Air Chief Marshal Glenn Torpy, currently on a visit to India, took an opportunity to fly a SU-30. The RAF also fielded a VC-10 mid-air refuelling aircraft during the exercise.

After a hectic two-day ground training schedule, air combat exercises began on October 3 with less complex maneuvers involving four fighters. The second week saw both sides undertaking complex missions involving large aircraft engagements. This was the ninth bilateral exercises in which the IAF has participated in the past three years.

© Copyright 2006 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
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Number of User Comments: 2

Sub: SU-30

Ya Right. When the big Man kids with little boy, the little boy feels great.

Posted by vikrma

Sub: support the IAF

I do not know if this is a political ploy or genuine. But the IAF are sure getting accolades from their western counterparts. however, the ...

Posted by Aditya



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