IAF Soars on Rafale in Global Air Exercise in Freezing Temperature

(flying | high) Contingent takes part in Exercise Red Flag in U.S

New Delhi: The Indian Air Force's (IAF) Rafale fighter jets took part in an intense multinational air exercise in near sub-freezing temperatures in Alaska, USA. The exercise saw collaboration with the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), Royal Air Force (RAF) of the United Kingdom, Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF), German Luftwaffe, and the US Air Force (USAF).

This participation comes ahead of India hosting its first-ever multinational air exercise, Tarang Shakti-2024, likely scheduled for August this year, which will include participation from the US, UK, France, and Germany, among others.

The IAF contingent took part in Exercise Red Flag 2024, conducted at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, from June 4 to June 14. This advanced aerial combat training exercise, held four times a year by the US Air Force, was the second edition of Red Flag 2024.

During the exercise, IAF Rafale aircraft operated alongside RSAF and USAF F-16 and F-15s, and USAF A-10 aircraft. The missions included Beyond Visual Range (BVR) combat exercises as part of Large Force Engagements (LFE) in Offensive Counter Air and Air Defence roles. The IAF crew were actively involved in mission planning and also assumed the role of Mission Leaders for designated missions.

The IAF contingent, equipped with Rafale aircraft and personnel including aircrew, technicians, engineers, controllers, and subject matter experts, was transported by IL-78 Air to Air Refuellers and C-17 Globemaster aircraft. The contingent landed at Eielson Air Force Base on May 29.

Red Flag is designed to provide realistic combat settings with multiple scenarios. Forces are divided to simulate the desired environment, with the Red Force representing Air Defence elements and the Blue Force representing Offensive Composite elements. During this exercise, the Red Force was primarily constituted by the USAF Aggressor Squadron flying F-16 and F-15 aircraft.

This exercise marked the first time the IAF Rafale aircraft participated in Red Flag. Despite challenging weather conditions and near sub-zero temperatures, the IAF maintenance crew ensured the serviceability of all aircraft, enabling more than 100 sorties during the exercise.

Key takeaways included insights into interoperability with international partners and a collaborative understanding of employment philosophy in a multinational environment. The experience of ferrying long distances with Air to Air refuelling enroute was particularly enriching for the younger crew.

As the contingent undertakes its return journey, it plans to split enroute, participating in exercises with Air Force elements of Greece and Egypt, before landing back in India on June 24.

"Enriched with the Red Flag exercise experience, the IAF keenly looks forward to hosting the participating contingents from other countries during Ex-Tarang Shakti-2024, which is the first-ever Indian multinational air exercise to be held later this year," said the Indian Air Force.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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