Exercise Indra Dhanush II

From July 2nd - 12th the Indian Air Force (IAF) took part in Exercise Indra Dhanush II. This exercise was a follow-up on the first edition which took place in India, October 2006, when the RAF was at guest with F.3 Tornado's from 43Sqn and an E-3D AWACS and VC-10 Tanker aircraft.

Indra Dhanush (Dhanush means Rainbow) is a bilateral exercise and aims to further develop the good defense relationship between both Air Forces.Part two of the Exercise saw 6 of the latest IAF fighters, the SU-30MKI and one IL-78 tanker aircraft taking part. Host was 25Sqn, based at RAF Leeming. RAF Waddington however was the operating station due to the runway length at RAF Leeming, which is not long enough to secure a safe landing for the SU-30MKI in all circumstances.

The SU-30MKI fighter aircraft belongs to 30 'Rhinos' squadron based at Pune, India. Over 200 personnel were flown in by 2 IL-76 and 2 IL-78 transport/tanker aircraft. At 27th and 28th June they arrived to take part in the annual RAF Waddington air show.

RAF Waddington is known about the NOMAD exercises held here until 2004. Nowadays it hosts 5Sqn (Sentinel), 8 and 23Sqn (E-3D) and 51Sqn (Nimrod). RAF Waddington is situated just south of Lincoln, Lincolnshire.

The exercise aims at enhancing mutual operational understanding of each other's operational concepts besides familiarization with other aspects of maintenance, procedures and administrative practices. First days were aimed at introducing the IAF pilots to the flying environment in the UK.

According to Wing Commander of 25 squadron, John Prescot, the communication between both Air Force pilots was not a problem despite of slightly different terminology. After a couple of days more complex missions were flown like air combat missions as well as air-refueling with VC-10 and IL-78 tanker aircraft.

John Prescot emphasized the air combat missions were not RAF vs IAF but were mixed formations of SU-30MKI, F.3 Tornado's and EF2000 Typhoon aircraft. Wing Commander AC Chopra of the IAF added they wanted to build up on last years exercise and they now have a degree of interoperability.

At July 12th the exercise came to an end after the last morning mission. Both the Commander in Chief of the IAF (Air Chief Marshal FH Major) and RAF (Sir Clive Loader) were present to thank the involved personnel for their effort which made it a very successful exercise (see below). They didn't gave an answer when Indra Dhanush III will take part, but it's clear these exercises will continue.

The author would like to thank the PRO of RAF Waddington to host the media day on July 12th.

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