Su-30MKI fighters of the Indian Air Force (IAF) participated in offensive counter air ops in which they provided escort cover to the strike elements as part of the Red Flag Alaska 16-1 air exercise involving the Indian and US air forces.
Apart from this, the IAF Jaguars DARIN II undertook integrated strike missions dropping practice bombs over the world renowned JPARC Air to Ground Range). There were three missions commanded by Indian Airforce in this exercise. Mission commanders of both the Jaguars and Su 30s were involved in planning, execution and conduct of debrief.
The main phase of the exercise had commenced on 28 Apr 16 with a mix of combat and support elements participating from IAF, USAF and USN, and concluded yesterday, an IAF press release said.
While referring to the overall exercise plan and objective Red Flag Alaska 16-1 the Team Leader Gp Capt H Assudani said, “(the) Objective of this inter-continental deployment was not only to showcase IAF capability in undertaking Integrated Air Ops but also to imbibe operational lessons from the exercise engagements which will help us add more teeth to our overall war waging capabilities.”
The exercise is played under multiple simulated scenario designed to provide realistic settings. The overall demarcation is between Red Force (simulated as the Defensive force component fighting to protect own airspace and assets) and the Blue Force (simulated as the Offensive composite package). The Red Forces was mainly constituted by the 18 Sqn Aggressor Sqn flying the F-16s. The IAF along with the other USAF (F-15, F-16, F-22) and USN (F-18) constituted the Blue force. During the exercise IAF also flew as a part of the Red Force alongside the Aggressors which was a first of its kind.
While talking about the IAF in the red flag exercise Lt Col Brian Toth, Chief operations officer of 354 operations group said, “The IAFs participation has been extremely good from my perspective. For most nations it takes an exercise or two to step up to meet the requirements of a Mission commander. The IAF has been mission commander three times and also performed the package commander roles and they have done a tremendous job.”
During the exercise a set of Red Flag team formed the `white Force’ & using high tech instrumentation and mission debrief tools were used to evaluate the performance of the participants in an objective and logical manner. The White Force watched the entire exercise in real time on tactical displays in the operations room on ground. Kill removal (removal of the pilots and aircraft assumed shot by the enemy) made the exercise more realistic.
The Senior Engineering Officers of the IAF units were happy with the high tarmac availability that allowed aircrew to perform their missions. Wg Cdr Pratyush Anand, SEO of SU-30 Sqn said, “out of box thinking of the technicians has earned praise from all quarters. The participating airmen got an opportunity to see a variety of aircraft and this exposure and interaction with other fleets will go a long way in evolving our own practices.”
In the closing address Col William Culver 354th Fighter Wing Vice Cdr said, “this was one of the best Red flags I has seen. I compliment the exceptional standards displayed by the IAF and am amazed to see all the ten aircraft IAF had brought (4 Su30s, 4 Jaguars and 2 IL-78s) maintaining 100% serviceability for the entire four weeks and their aircraft flying on all days as per plan.”
The Contingent will start their de-induction phase on 14 May 16 and are planned to return to India in the last week of May 16. The Su-30s will additionally participate in exercise ‘Desert Eagle II’ with UAE Air Force on their way back.