T he Indian Air Force (IAF) and the British Royal Air Force (RAF) are to hold the joint exercise Indradhanush (Rainbow) at Air Force Station Kalaikunda, in West Midnapur district in the eastern state of West Bengal from next Monday. And for the first time, the 17-day exercise will include the IAF’s IL-76 AWACS and the RAF’s Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft.
Besides these, India will also be fielding its Sukhoi-30 MKI, Mirage 2000 and MiG-27 Flogger aircraft, while the RAF will bring in its E-3D AWACS and VC-10 refuellers, according to a statement issued by the IAF. India had recently grounded its Floggers after three crashes and two fatalities this year.
The IAF said that ‘specific emphasis’ will be on missions like ‘Large Force Engagements’ and protection of ‘High Value Aerial Assets’, which are ‘roles routinely undertaken by RAF as apart of coalition/expeditionary force deployment around the globe’. “The other novel exposure is expected to be logistical management needed to move large forces for a possible out of area contingency,” said the statement.
It quoted Air Marshal KK Nohwar, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Air Command as saying, “The Exercise Indradhanush is an opportunity for both the air forces to get an insight into each others operational philosophies and work cultures. This will greatly enhance the understanding of our air force to operate in scenario involving state of the art technologies”.
He also added that the exercise would allow both nations to fine-tune their procedures for multi-national operations, ‘which are likely to happen with greater frequency in future’.
The Eurofighter Typhoon is competing in the IAF’s 126 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) contest and presumably, this will give the IAF a further chance to check out the aircraft’s operational capabilities.