RAF Fairford, UK: A pair of Indian Air Force (IAF) Sukhoi-30MKI fighters, that have already gained legendary status around the world, will make an appearance at the Royal International Air Tattoo to be held at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire this summer, before they make their way back to the sub-continent after performing joint exercises with RAF fighter units.
What has set hearts aflutter, and expectations soaring, in the UK is the fact that the appearance of the two IAF Sukhoi's in the Western hemisphere would be a rare one indeed for aviation aficionados. Expectations about their performance is also high, particularly since the performance of these fighters, and of the pilots who man them, has been much spoken about ever since the USAF and RAF fighter units engaged them in joint exercises over the last two years or so.
For the two Su-30MKI Flankers, supported by an air refueling IL-78 tanker, their appearance at the Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire on July 14-15 will be part of the ongoing celebrations to mark the Indian Air Force's 75th anniversary.
The Su-30MKI, a variant of the Sukhoi Su-30, is a heavy class, long-range, multi-role, air superiority and strike fighter, which is being jointly manufactured by Russia's Sukhoi Corporation and India's Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for the Indian Air Force.
Just before their appearance for the Tattoo at RAF Fairford, a larger force of around six IAF Su-30MKI's will engage in a joint exercise with RAF Tornado F-3s from RAF Leeming, and a RAF E-3 component based at RAF Waddington. The exercise is by way of a follow up to last year's joint exercise in India between the two forces, whicj also was the first major exercise between the two air forces in more than 40 years.
Last year's exercise, named Ex-Indra Dhanush ('Rainbow' in Hindi), was held at AF Station Gwalior and AF Station Agra. During the exercise, RAF Tornado F-3s, an E-3D Sentry and a VC-10 tanker engaged IAF aircraft, such as the Sukhoi-30 MKI, Mirage 2000, MiG-21 'Bison' and the MiG-27. Some of the RAF fighter pilots even managed joy rides on the S0-30MKI's during the exercise.
Meanwhile, Air Tattoo director Tim Prince said he was delighted and honoured to have the Indian Air Force take part in this summer's Air Tattoo. "We were fortunate that the date scheduled for the joint exercise coincided with the Air Tattoo. Whilst we are hugely grateful for the continuous support of all the air arms that take part each year, it is the rare and exotic aircraft that are the lifeblood of the Air Tattoo. It is what sets us apart from many other air-shows.
"We make it our business to extend the hand of friendship to every international air arm whether they are our neighbours or located halfway around the world because we believe that more the countries that take part, the more successful the Air Tattoo is in performing its very important international diplomacy role."