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IAF fighters to leave for US air exercise

July 06, 2008 21:30 IST

A batch of frontline IAF fighters and pilots will leave for the United States on Monday to prove their mettle during the multinational air exercise, "Ex-Red Flag 08", at the USAF's Nellis Air Force Base.

For the next two months, the flying skills and endurance of India's ace fighter pilots and their Russian-made Sukhoi fighters will face the ultimate test at the world's most advanced air force base.

The multinational air exercise is scheduled to be held at Nellis base from August nine to 23.

This is the first time that the Russian-made SU-30 MK-I fighters will make their appearance in multi-nation exercises to pit their skills against US and other NATO fighters.

"The Indian Air Force will participate in a multinational air exercise, Ex-Red Flag 08 at the invitation of United States Air Force (USAF), scheduled to be held at Nellis Air Force Base in the US from 09-23 Aug 08," an IAF spokesperson said.

The skills of the IAF fighter pilots' will be pitched against an environment where the most advanced war scenario will be enacted with the help of air-borne early warning and air control aircraft, satellite and some of the most advanced flying machines in the arsenal of the USAF.

India's participation in the US exercise signals the government's intentions to go ahead with military to military cooperation with Washington even as the Indo-US nuclear deal hangs in balance.

The IAF's participation in the multi-nation Red Flag Exercise comes at a time when top air force officials have indicated that India may go ahead in setting up similar advanced air force ranges at its Gwalior and Kalaikunda air bases.

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