report by : Thierry LETELLIER
RAF Waddington played host to the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) most potent air superiority fighter, the Sukhoi Su-30MKI ‘Flanker-H’ for Exercise Indra Dhanush. The aim of the exercise was to further develop a good defence relationship.
Indian Air Force is celebrating its 75th Anniversary, and it was the first time they have deployed to the United Kingdom and also the first time their Su-30MKI’s have to participate to an exercice overseas . Six Su-30 MKI’s of 30 Squadron IAF from Pune / Lohegaon AFS were supported by Ilyushin IL-78 MKI ‘Midas’ tankers of 78 Mid-Air Refuelling Squadron (MARS) from Agra AFS followed by an IL-76 ‘Candid’ of the 44 (Transport) Squadron based at Nagpur / Dr.Ambedkar Intl .Indra Dhanush is the second part of the bilateral exercise, which started with 43(F) Squadron Tornado F.3s from RAF Leuchars participating in an exercise in India in October 2006. They were supported by a 101 Squadron VC-10 tanker and an 8 Squadron E-3D Sentry.
For Indra Dhanush in the UK, six Tornado F.3s from 25 Squadron at RAF Leeming moved to Waddington, enabling both air forces personnel could more readily share experiences gained during the exercise. Additionally a VC-10 from 101 Squadron and Typhoon’s from 3(F) Squadron at RAF Coningsby also participated from their home base .The focus activities of each day’s was one of Air Defence, with all air combat flying taking place over the North Sea . Both sides recognised that the exercise was not RAF versus IAF, but utilised two integrated forces (blue versus red).
The RAF officials admited after the exercice that mixed formations held at the end, by adding an extra level of complexity; represent a great value experience for both sides . After all , we had a very nice journey with a weather far better than expected !