June 24, 2010 12:09:44 am
The Indian Air Force (IAF) has got a feel of Pakistans most modern fighter aircraft during a multi-nation exercise in France even before the aircraft have been delivered to the Pakistani Air Force (PAF).
Later this week,Pakistan will get its most modern fighter aircraft when the US delivers the first four of the advanced Block 52 F 16 aircraft as part of a deal to upgrade its military.
However,the IAF has sparred with the Block 52 version of the fighter which is considered to be a generation ahead of the existing F 16 fleet of the PAF during Exercise Garuda that is currently underway at the Istres Air Base in France. The IAF,which has deployed its SU 30MKI fighters for the exercise,has conducted aerial duels and joint missions to fully gauge the capabilities of the enemy fighter. Pakistan is to get 18 of the Block 52 versions of the F 16 fighters under a deal with the US.
Sources said not only did IAF pilots get a feel of the operational characteristics of the fighter during the aerial war games but some pilots also got the chance to take sorties in the F 16 Block 52 aircraft of the Singapore Air Force that was part of the multi-nation aerial exercise involving India and France. A senior officer confirmed that this was also the first time that the IAFs SU 30MKIs were conducting an exercise with three modern fighters the Rafale,F 16 and the Mirage 2000-5.
Over 60 missions have been successfully flown during the exercise. The six IAF SU 30MKIs along with the Mirage-2000-5 and Rafale and the F-16 were engaged in various air defence manouvres such as implementation of no fly zones and large force engagements during day and night, IAF spokesperson Wing Commander Mahesh Upasani,who was present at the exercise,said.
The Indian fighters took part in missions to protect high value air borne assets like refuellers and AWACS. The SU 30MKIs also practised aerial refuelling with the French KC 135 aircraft. The multi-role Sukhoi fighters were also simultaneously deployed in defensive and offensive operations a key capability of the heavy fighter aircraft.
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