Indian, US armies begin 'Yudh'

War game will involve tackling improvised explosive devices

The central attraction of the exercise will be engagements involving mechanised infantry battalions from the Indian Army and 14 Stryker armoured combat vehicles from the US Army’s 25 Stryker brigade.

This is the largest deployment of the Stryker brigade outside Iraq and Afghanistan. From the US side, 325 soldiers are participating in the exercise. The 18-day exercise is taking place at Babina near Jhansi under the aegis of Pune-based Southern Command of the Army.

Code named Exercise Yudh Abhyas, the war game will involve tackling improvised explosive devices often used by the terrorists and how to maintain the logistic support in a typical counter insurgency operation.

Incidentally, the joint exercise is happening within a month of the first anniversary of 26/11, which changed the security dynamics across the world. In a separate war game involving transport aircraft, the Indian and US Air Forces will engage in an air exercise, a day after Diwali. The five-day exercise, Cope India-09, will be held at Agra from October 19.

While the USAF will participate with C-17 Globemaster, C-130J (Super Hercules) and C-130H transport aircraft, India will field its heavy-lift IL-76, medium-lift transport aircraft AN-32 and Mi-17 helicopters.

The exercise is aimed at evaluating the tactical efficacies of joint operations, use of transport planes in medical emergencies and Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) missions involving medium and heavy lift transport aircraft.

The exercise will help Indian Air Force pilots experience first hand knowledge about the C-17 Globemaster, which the IAF was eyeing at to replace its ageing IL-76 fleet. While IL-76 can carry 45 tonnes of load, the capacity of Globemaster is 70 tonnes. A proposal from the IAF to procure 10 C-17 Globemaster is believed to have been considered by the Defence Ministry.

Last year India had inked a Rs 3,850-crore deal with the US to buy six C-130J transport aircraft from Lockheed Martin. The aircraft is expected to be delivered from 2011. Nearly 160 USAF personnel and about 200 IAF air warriors will participate in the Agra round of the Cope series of air exercise.

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