On a mission to consolidate strength overseas, the Indian Air Force will lead its first-ever venture in the strategically located Persian Gulf region in wargames hosted by UAE Air Force.
India is all geared up to participate in a major multi-national air combat exercise in the UAE with fighter jets and strategic airlift aircraft this month.
The IAF on Wednesday will deploy around six SU-30MKIs, two C-17 Globemaster IIIs and 125 personnel for a “Desert-Flag” exercise, which will see simultaneous participation from American and European air forces, including the United States, France, South Korea, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
Greece, Jordan, Kuwait and Egypt in turn will be observers throughout the duration of the wargames, which are supposed to go on for three weeks and will be overseen by the Air Warfare Center of the Al Dhafra airbase, with USAF F-15s and F-16s, French Rafales, Mirage 2000s and Russian Sukhois coming together for the first time since pandemic.
With great care and perseverance, India has steadily been building strong defense ties with Gulf nations via military training, intelligence-sharing and a number of bilateral exercises over the years. “But this will be the first time the IAF will take part in such a multilateral exercise in the crucial Gulf region,” said a senior officer of the IAF.
This is the 4th time in the last five years that the IAF is participating in a multilateral exercise, including the famed American ‘Red Flag’ in 2016, and the Israeli ‘Blue Flag’ and the Australian ‘Pitch Black’ wargames in 2018.
The IAFs versatility in conducting operations in such a vast range of terrain, from the high-altitude region of Ladakh and the deserts of Rajasthan to the Indian Ocean region, has made it a partner of choice for such wargames around the globe.
Improvements of military ties with Gulf countries also to the first-ever visit by an Indian Army Chief in December last year, with General M.M Narvane’s tour of UAE and Saudi Arabia, at a time when their traditionally close ties with Pakistan have caused strain.
The UAE has also taken the lead among Gulf countries in normalizing ties with Israel, another country with which India has close military ties. The UAE Air Force also provided support via its Airbus A330 MRTT tankers to the IAFs new Rafale fighters on their over 7,000 kilometer trip from France to India.
India is also in discussions with the UAE, Saudi Arabia and other countries to export the supersonic Brahmos anti-ship cruise missiles, which are capable of striking targets up to 300 kilometers away, and Akash surface-to-air missiles, which have a range of up to 25 kilometers.
With this exercise, the IAF will closely monitor and access the warfare capabilities of Gulf nations, in addition to demonstrating warfare tactics jointly with the USAF and French Air Force.