New Delhi: The Indian Air Force (IAF) chief, Air Chief Marshal, Fali Homi Major, departed on a weeklong visit to the UK on Sunday during which he will witness the ongoing joint air exercise "Indradhanush" being conducted by the two air forces.
During the visit, ACM Major will also visit RAF Valley, Wales, where Indian pilots are currently being trained on the Hawk advanced jet trainer (AJT).
During his visit he will meet his British counterpart, Air Chief Marshal, Sir Glenn Torpy, and also attend the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire.
The joint exercise marks the first time that the frontline Sukhoi Su-30 combat jets are coming up against the top-of-the-line Eurofighter Typhoon. The Eurofighter is also one of the contenders for an IAF order for 126 multi-role combat aircraft and a global tender is likely to be floated later this month.
Meanwhile, the Indradhanush exercise has begun on a dramatic note for both the air forces. According to an IAF release, the operational part of the exercise began with a series of one-to-one air combat sorties.
'Both sets of pilots landed with their much-touted reputations intact as each side tested their potential in the air to their limits,' an IAF release said.
'These sorties were premised not entirely on having winners or losers - but more for their evaluator and training values as encapsulated in the objectives. Both sides ended-up sharing an enhanced respect for each other's capabilities - both in terms of training values, and combat potentials of the diverse aerial platforms,' the release added.
According to the IAF sources, while the RAF fielded some of its most-experienced and highly qualified pilots, some of them being very senior performance evaluators in active service, the IAF pilots were a mix of young to middle-level pilots.
'The RAF pilots were candid in their admission of the Su-30's superior manoeuvring in the air, just as they had studied, prepared and anticipated. The IAF pilots on their part were also visibly impressed by the Typhoon's agility in the air,' the release said.