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IAF contingent participates in combat exercise ‘Red Flag’ in Alaska

New Delhi, June 17 (IANS) An Indian Air Force (IAF) contingent participated in Exercise Red Flag 2024 conducted at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska of the United States Air Force, from June 4-14. This was the second edition of Exercise Red Flag 2024, which is an advanced aerial combat training exercise, held four times a year by the US Air Force.

The exercise witnessed the participation of the Indian Air Force along 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). “IAF contingent participated with the Rafale aircraft and personnel comprising of aircrew, technicians, engineers, controllers and subject matter experts. The transatlantic ferry of Rafale fighter aircraft was enabled by the IL-78 Air to Air Refuellers (AAR), while the transportation of personnel and equipment was undertaken by the C-17 Globemaster aircraft,” the Ministry of Defence said on Sunday.

The contingent landed at Eielson, USAF base in Alaska on May 29. Red Flag is an air combat exercise conducted with multiple scenarios designed to provide realistic combat settings. A demarcation of forces is done for simulating the desired environment, with the Red Force simulating Air Defence elements, and the Blue Force simulating the Offensive Composite elements. During this Exercise (Ex), the Red Force was mainly constituted by the USAF Aggressor Sqn flying the F-16 and the F-15 aircraft. This was the first time the IAF Rafale aircraft participated in Exercise Red Flag, wherein, they operated alongside the RSAF and USAF F-16 and F-15s, and the USAF A-10 aircraft.

The missions included Beyond Visual Range (BVR) combat exercises as a 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 during the exercise, officials said. In spite of the challenging weather and almost sub-zero temperatures, the IAF maintenance crew worked diligently to ensure the serviceability of all the aircraft throughout the duration of the exercise and all assigned missions could be undertaken with more than 100 sorties being flown during the exercise.

Key takeaways from the exercise included insight into interoperability with international partners and a collaborative understanding of employment philosophy in a multinational environment. Experience of ferrying long distances, while undertaking Air to Air refuelling en route, was both an enriching and thrilling takeaway, especially for the younger crew. Undertaking their return journey, the contingent is planned to split en route along with their mutual support elements and participate in exercise 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.

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