Personnel from the Russian Federation Air Force (RFAF) and the Indian Air Force (IAF) participated in the second phase of their first bilateral exercise, named ‘AVIA-INDRA 1’, at the Sidhwan Khas range near Jagraon in Ludhiana district on Tuesday.
Officers of both forces witnessed air to ground firing by aircrafts and helicopters during the exercise. It is for the first time that the IAF station at Halwara has been selected to organise such an exercise. The 18-member crew from RFAF is participating, and some of them also flew the IAF’s aircrafts, including SU-30 MKI, Mi-35 and Mi-17.
Besides, the members of both air forces witnessed exercises through IAF’s MiG-21 and Jaguar aircrafts. Modern equipment was used during by the IAF during the exercise at the range spread over nearly 3,700 acres. Rockets and bombs were thrown on target points while helicopters’ attack capabilities were specifically on display. Aircrafts and choppers from IAF stations from Ambala, Sirsa, Pathankot and Halwara were requisitioned.
Talking to HT, wing commander of the Halwara station, SK Saini informed that it is for the first time that Russian and Indian air forces are jointly conducting an exercise. He said members of the Russian delegation had also visited Bengaluru, where they were exposed to indigenous projects such as the light combat aircraft Tejas, light combat helicopter and the advanced light helicopter Dhruv.
After the exercise at Sidhwan Khas, members of both forces planted a sapling and unveiled a stone to commemorate the exercise.
Air commodore at Halwara, PK Vohra said, “We had also visited Russia for 10 days to conduct such an exercise. It is a good experience to learn how they fly, and they are getting experience too. Earlier, we have conducted such exercises with the air forces of UK, Singapore and France among others.”
“The joint exercise will further strengthen the relations between Russia and India,” said Major General Lyapkin Alexander, who was heading the Russian delegation, using a translator for communication.
The exercise began on November 17, and the Russian team will be in India till November 28. In the first phase, a delegation of IAF had participated in an exercise in Russia in August-September.