IAF contingent participates in Ex Red Flag 2024 in US

New Delhi, June 16 (Agency) An Indian Air Force (IAF) contingent with Rafale Aircraft, participated in Exercise Red Flag 2024, which is an advanced aerial combat training exercise, held at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska of the United States Air Force. This was the second edition of Ex Red Flag 2024, and was conducted from June 4 to 14, an official statement said. On their return journey, the contingent is planned to split en route along with their mutual support elements and participate in exercises with Air Force elements of Greece and Egypt, before landing back in India on 24 June. The exercise witnessed the participation of the IAF along with the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), Royal Air Force (RAF) of the United Kingdom, Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF), German Luftwaffe, and the US Air Force (USAF). The IAF contingent participated with the Rafale aircraft and personnel comprising aircrew, technicians, engineers, controllers and subject matter experts.

The transatlantic ferry of Rafale fighter aircraft was enabled by the IL-78 Air to Air Refuellers (AAR), while the transportation of personnel and equipment was undertaken by the C-17 Globemaster aircraft. The contingent landed at Eielson, USAF base in Alaska on 29 May. Red Flag is an air combat exercise conducted with multiple scenarios designed to provide realistic combat settings. A demarcation of forces is done for simulating the desired environment, with the Red Force simulating Air Defence elements, and the Blue Force simulating the Offensive Composite elements. During this Exercise, the Red Force was mainly constituted by the USAF Aggressor Sqn flying the F-16 and the F-15 aircraft. For the first time, the IAF Rafale aircraft participated in Ex Red Flag, wherein, they operated alongside the RSAF and USAF F-16 and F-15s, and the USAF A-10 aircraft.

The missions included Beyond Visual Range (BVR) combat exercises as a part of Large Force Engagements (LFE), in offensive counter-air and air defence roles. The IAF crew were actively involved in mission planning and also assumed the role of mission leaders for designated missions during the exercise. The key takeaways from the exercise included insight into interoperability with international partners and a collaborative understanding of employment philosophy in a multinational environment. Experience of ferrying long distances, while undertaking Air to Air refuelling en route, was both an enriching and thrilling takeaway, especially for the younger crew.