Pune: A 200-member Indian Air Force (IAF) contingent, equipped with six Sukhoi-30MKI combat jets and a Il-78 mid-air refueller, will leave for the United Kingdom on Sunday, June 24 to participate in a bilateral exercise with the Royal Air force.
Codenamed Indradhanush-07, this is a follow-on exercise to the one held by both the forces last year in Gwalior, and is due to take place from July 2-12 at RAF Waddington. Indradhanush-07 will also be the first ever joint air exercise in British airspace between the two air forces, and is aimed at enhancing bilateral defence cooperation.
The one at Gwalior last year was the first one conducted by the two forces after a gap of 40 years.
The Su-30MKI jets, drawn from the IAF's Pune-based, 30 'Rhino' Squadron, will be refueled by the Il-78 on their journey to the UK, via Doha in Qatar and Tangara in Greece. The jets will reach Britain on June 28.
In the exercise the RAF is expected to field its Tornado F-3s from RAF Leeming, and a RAF E-3 AWACS component, based at RAF Waddington.
Air Marshal, KD Singh, air officer commanding-in-chief, South Western Air Command, addressed the departing contingent at the Pune airbase on Friday. Group Captain Girish Saini will lead the contingent as the exercise director, with Wing Commander AC Chopra as the deputy leader. Wing Commander Bharti will lead the fighter pilots and two navigators, who are also expected to double up as weapon operators on the Su-30's.
Before the exercise, the Su-30s and the Il-78 will participate in the Waddington Air Show to be held from June 30 to July 1. Post-exercise, two Su-30s and the Il-78 will join the Royal Air Tattoo to be held at RAF Fairford during July 16-18, a release said.
There is a considerable amount of interest already generated in the UK, regarding the appearance of the Indian Su-30MKIs.
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Indian Air Force Su-30MKIs to appear at UK's Royal International Air Tattoo