India-Russia air exercise to begin on November 17

The air warriors from India and Russia are set to hone their fighting skills in a 10-day long exercise in Punjab later this month.

Exercise Avia-Indra between the Indian Air Force and the Russian Federation Air Force will take place at Halwara air station between November 17 and 27, sources said.

The Russians will not bring any of their assets and will fly Indian Air Force platforms, which include Su-30MKI fighter aircraft and Mi-17 and Mi-35 helicopters. This is the second part of the maiden bilateral air exercise in 2014.

The first part was held between August 25 and September 5 in the Astrakhan region of Russia near the Caspian Sea. The bilateral exercise will take place ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s planned visit to India next month. While Putin is likely to be present in India in the second week of December, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dimitri Rogozin will be arriving in India on Tuesday for the preparatory meetings with Indian officials.

While the Indra series of exercises between the two armies and navies are taking place for many years, the war-drill between the two air forces is relatively new.

The air exercise is little different because the forces do not carry their own platforms and use the aircraft of the host country. In the Astrakhan phase, IAF pilots flew Su-30SM fighter aircraft as well as Mi-17 and Mi-35 helicopters along with Russian pilots. The missile combat crew from India interacted with their counterparts from the Russian Air Force and participated in air defence exercises.

The Exercise Avia Indra-2014 was seen as a major milestone as it involves participation of fighter pilots, helicopter pilots, missile combat crew and engineers from the IAF and RFAF. Besides the air exercises, three more war games involving the Navy and Army are coming up in November.

These include Indian Army’s Hand-in-Hand exercise with China in Pune and another exercise with the Maldives in the island nation.

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