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IAF, USAF train in counter-terror, anti-piracy operations

Last updated on: October 19, 2009 19:35 IST

IAF, USAF train together in anti-terror ops

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With vast experience in operating behind enemy lines in Afghanistan and Iraq, the US Air Force has brought its commando expertise to this year's joint exercise with India, training the special forces of the two nations in counter-terrorism and anti-piracy operations.
    
Cope India-2009, the sixth in the series of Indo-US air exercise that began in Agra on Monday, will focus not only on transport operations, but also insertion and extraction of its special forces in hostile zones, as also searching for pilots, who may have crashed in enemy territory, and rescuing them.
    
"One of the focus of this exercise is joint operations by special forces of both the Indian Air Force and United States Air Force behind enemy lines, such as sending a team into hostile territory or to extricate a pilot, whose aircraft had crashed there," USAF's Cope India Director Colonel Raymond Lamarche told PTI in Agra.     

Reminding of the popular Gene Hackman and Owen Wilson-starrer Hollywood movie Behind Enemy Lines, a group of IAF's Garud special forces and USAF special forces troops boarded a C-130 J Super Hercules aircraft to carry out a para-jump over the sky in a real-time operations simulation.

Text:  PTI

 


Image: An Indian Air Force AN-32 aircraft flies over the C-130 H aircrafts of the US Air Force during 'Cope-India-09', a joint exercise in Agra
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
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India has bought 6 C-130 J tactical aircraft for its special forces

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To a question on the future possibility of a similar joint operation by the two air forces in counter-terrorism and anti-piracy roles, Colonel Lamarche replied in the affirmative and said that was why they were exercising the complex manoeuvres.

Incidentally, India has bought six C-130 J tactical-lift aircraft for its own special forces operations and the firstof these would be arriving at Hindan airbase near Delhi by early 2011.
    
The two air forces would also practise rapid insertion of its special forces during the course of the five-day exercise. "Special operations, which are tactical and complex will be carried out using C-130Js and C-17s," Lamarche added.
    
"The Garuds will train along with the USAF special operations forces to validate concepts and inter-operability for execution of specialist operations in a simulated hostile environment," IAF's exercise Director Group Captain Mathews Mammen said.


Image: An IAF special forces 'Garuds' officer (R) talks with a USAF Special Operation Forces officer during Cope-India-09.
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
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'This exercise will help shape future operational philosophy'

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The Garuds would be exposed to new fields such as combat controlling, para rescue, combat search and rescue operations, which would help them shape their future operational philosophy, training and upgrade equipment, Mammen added.
    
The USAF has brought three C-130 H Hercules from the 374th Airlift Wing and its upgraded version C-130 J from 146th Airlift Wing, apart from a C-17 heavy lift aircraft from 15th Airlift Wing to the exercise from its Pacific Air Force's Special Operation Command, which covers half of the globe from US west coast to the Indian west coast comprising the Pacific Ocean area, part of Asia including India and China.
    
The IAF, on its part, has got five AN-32 medium lift, an IL-76 heavy lift, both from its Russian transport aircraft inventory, two Russian Mi-17 and Chetak transport helicopters.

Agra is the IAF's major transport base under the Allahabad-headquartered Central Air Command and is said to be the largest air base in South East Asia. It will host 160 USAF personnel and 250 IAF air warriors during the exercise that will close on October 23.


Image: An IAF special forces 'Garuds' officer talks on his mobile phone during Cope-India-09
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
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IAF, USAF seeking 'jointness in operations'

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Asked if the IAF and USAF were trying to achieve inter-operability through the exercise, IAF's Central Air Command Senior Air and Staff Officer Air Marshal S Varthaman clarified that it was "jointness in operations" that they wanted to achieve."There is a subtle difference between inter-operability and joint operations," he stressed.
    
"The objectives spelt out for the exercise are to learn about each other's operational aspects through joint planning and execution of missions, to train and expose exercise personnel for joint operations in a simulated hostile scenario, to validate procedures for operations toward internal security, exposure to tactical considerations for airborne assault operations and night vision goggles-aided tactical operations," Mammen said.
    
The other objectives would include exposure to IAF crew to lead a joint team for a mission on a reciprocal basis, to gain exposure to modern air delivery techniques and finally management of mass casualties at a base and medical evacuation of
critical patients by air.
    
As part of mass casualty management, IAF would demonstrate capability of its Rapid Action Medical Team using newly-acquired 25-bed mobile hospital unit, besides patient transfer unit for evacuation.

Image: IAF and US Air force officers train together at the Cope-India-09 joint exercise
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
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