NEW DELHI: Amid growing bonhomie between India and the US, 12 IAF aircraft, including the Russian origin Su30 MKI, will fly to Alaska this month to take part in the prestigious 'Red Flag' air exercise that will see them in action alongside NATO forces during war games.
The aircraft – four each of Sukhoi and deep penetration Jaguars, two C17 transport plans and two mid air refuellers IL 78 – will travel through Bahrain, Egypt, France, Portugal and Canada before finally reaching Alaska.
The air exercise, from April 28-May 13, is seen as a complex and advanced network centric operation -- the toughest test for flying machines and men.
"The personnel have now assembled at the Jamnagar air base where they will undergo some training schedule. Advanced party will leave shortly and the rest would join them later in the US," an IAF official said.
This is the second time that India is participating in such an exercise after 2008. Due to high costs, the IAF had decided to take part in the exercise once every five years.
It was scheduled to take part in the 2013 edition but the exercise was cancelled by the US following budget cuts. According to an estimate, it will cost India over Rs 100 crore. It will also see over 150 IAF personnel in action.
"Crawl, walk and run" is the term used for the format of deployment for systematically increasing pace and scope of the exercise and combat maneuvers during 'Red Flag'. The Red Flag would be the most complex aerial war game involving forces from India and US that will also see Aerial Early Warning aircraft from NATO forces in action.
Once again, India has refrained from taking its Aerial early warning aircraft for the overseas exercise.