Waddington, UK: The fortnight long bilateral Indo-UK air exercise - Indradhanush 2007, has come to an end here at Royal Air Force (RAF) Waddington on Thursday. Exercise IndraDhanush is the second part of a bilateral squadron exchange exercise. In October 2006, 43(F) Squadron from RAF Leuchars, in Scotland took part in an exercise in India, which was the first time that the RAF had exercised with the Indian Air Force (IAF) for 40 years.
The exercise began with a series of 1vs.1 sorties, and climaxed with a highly complex scenario, a 6 vs. 6 aerial combat that involved 4 Su-30 MKIs, 4 F3 Tornadoes, 2 Typhoons and 2 GR9 Sea Harriers of the Royal Navy.
Also airborne were an IL-78 MKI air-to-air refueller and an E3D Sentry AWACS aircraft in the vicinity of the exercise.
Air chief marshal FH Major, chief of the air staff (CAS), Indian Air Force (IAF) currently on an official tour to the UK, was present at RAF Waddington to see the exercise culminate and meet the participating IAF team members. Air chief marshal, Sir Clive Loader, commander-in-chief (CinC) Air, RAF, accompanied the CAS during the visit.
The exercise marked the IAF Su-30 MKI's maiden arrival over European skies and for this reason was keenly awaited by thousands of aviation aficionados and spotters, who thronged the perimeter of the airbase unfailingly on a daily basis, all through the duration of the exercise.
The visit of the IAF contingent also coincided with the Waddington International Air Show and the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) at Fairford, within a span of two weeks. IAF participation at the two events was a coup of sorts for the organisers. Having been adjudged the 'best static display' at Waddington air show, expectations are already soaring high at the RIAT, the world's biggest air show.
"It was an excellent learning curve for our pilots who will go back with a lot of experience" said the Indian Air Chief. He also thanked the Government and the RAF in England for hosting the IAF.
In turn, the RAF C-in-C termed the exercise as an 'outstanding success'.
Earlier, Station Commander RAF Leeming, Group Captain E Stringer while briefing the visiting CAS stated that the RAF had adopted a 'building-block' approach to meet future IAF training and coalition aspirations. "The exercise achieved all its aims and objectives" - he further stated. Summing up on the RAF experience he said that a major outcome of the exercise was the appreciation of the fact that the two Air Forces actually "see the world through similar eyes", and that there were many "commonalities" in the tactical procedures of the two air forces, thereby laying a foundation for further RAF-IAF interactions.