AS the India-Russia joint tri-services exercise concluded on Thursday with its Air Force leg in Pune, officers of the Russian Federation Air Force (RFAF) said they had not only become friends during the training sessions but colleagues in the sky with Indian pilots. They added that such exercises should be held more regularly instead of just once a year.
The second edition of bilateral tri-services exercise Indra between the Armed Forces of the two nations concluded with the Army module in Babina in Uttar Pradesh, Air Force leg in Pune and the Navy exercise in Goa. The exercise included joint training in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations under the United Nations mandate.
Several airborne and ground assets of the Indian Air Force were deployed during the exercise, including Sukhoi-30 MKI, Jaguar, Mirage-2000, the indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft Tejas, IL-76 transporters, Airborne Early Warning and Control, Mi-17V5 choppers, indigenously developed Air Defence missile system Akash and Air Defence radars.
Colonel Bargin Sergey, Contingent Commander for RFAF, said, “During the exercise, we undertook several joint tasks and sorties together. We had a total of 10 sorties of Russian and Indian pilots together. We also had a sortie on the LCA Tejas and some lectures. The exercise shows that we have very strong relations. But we need such exercises not just once a year but more frequently, so there is more exchange of ideas.”
Colonel Kazarinov Dmitry from RFAF said, “We use the same aircraft as our Indian counterparts. While there are many common points in the flying programmes, the preparations and training are not same. We learnt a lot of new things that we will use and implement in our Armed Forces. We not just became friends but colleagues in the sky. The main lessons we learnt were about preparation and training.”
Air Commodore Rahul Bhasin, Air Officer Commanding of the Air Force Station Lohegaon in Pune, said, “This exercise has provided a unique opportunity towards undertaking joint planning and operations for peacekeeping and peace-enforcement missions under the United Nations mandate. During the course, both countries have shared many practices which improved our interoperability capability.”
Speaking about the anti-terror theme of the exercise, Exercise Coordinator, Wing Commander T J Singh, said, “Under the United Nations mandate, if a third country has been affected by militia or terror outfit, then the United Nations can intervene to enforce or restore peace. When our commandos or Army personnel conduct operations, we need to control the airspace to ensure that our missions are not influenced. So in scenarios like this, we need to enforce no-fly zones, we have to deploy surface-to-air missiles, we need air dominance over the region so our surface forces — Navy and Army — can progress.”
The validation exercise at Babina was reviewed by Minister of State for Defence Shripad Yesso Naik in the presence of Southern Army Commander Lieutenant General SK Saini and Lieutenant General Sergie Sevriukov, Deputy Commander Eastern Military District of Russia.
Sukhoi in BrahMos test was from Pune base
During an interaction with the media, when asked about the recent test of the BrahMos cruise missile which was fired from a Sukhoi, Air Commodore Rahul Bhasin said, “The Su-30 aircraft which fired the BrahMos missile belongs to this base on which the missile was integrated. I can proudly say that the only Air Force which had got this missile integrated on its aircraft is the Indian Air Force. Brahmos has no parallel.” While the fighter jet participating in the test was from the Pune base, it had taken off from Kalaikunda airbase in West Bengal to fire at a naval target in the Bay of Bengal.