The IAF is gearing up to join future anti-piracy operations in Gulf of Aden and is holding the first-ever exercise with Omanese Air Force this month to get experience in operating fighter aircraft there.
"The IAF may be called upon to conduct aerial surveillance of the swathe of the Gulf of Aden region, where pirates are widening their area of operations fast," IAF vice chief Air Marshal P K Barbora told reporters in New Delhi.
Joining the anti-piracy operations would not mean the IAF would unleash an offensive against the sea brigands, but would carry out surveillance of the vast area that the Navy would be unable to cover due to "speed and manpower" constraints, Barbora said.
"With our (IAF) surveillance capability, we can help the comity of nations fighting the piracy menace there. Navy may not be able to cover the area in terms of speed and number of men. It is not necessary that we use our fire power," he said.
Assuring that the fighter aircraft could perform surveillance role too, the IAF vice chief said with the midair refuelling capability, the fighters' endurance levels to fly for longer hours and patrolling the area increased substantially.
The 'Eastern Bridge' air exercise with Royal Air Force of Oman (RAFO) from October 22 to 29 would focus on achieving jointness and enhancing understanding of operational, maintenance and administrative procedures between the two air forces, he said.