Exercise Garuda II - Istres AFB, France 2005
[Translated from the original French article at [url]http://perso.wanadoo.fr/aeromil-yf/[/url] . More photographs can be found at [url]http://perso.wanadoo.fr/aeromil-yf/news.htm[/url] ]
Ex GARUDA II was conducted between 15th to the 30th of June, 2005, at the Istres Airbase in France. It was the first time that the Indian Air Force took part in an air exercise in Europe and especially, the first time that it deployed its Sukhoi 30K out of its borders. The only known previous deployment was of the Jaguar Fighter bombers in the USAF exercises in Alaska dubbed Operation Cope Thunder in 2004.
GARUDA II is the second in series of the joint exercises between the Indian Air Force and French Air Force. GARUDA I was undertaken in February 2003 at the Indian Air Base of Gwalior, when four Mirage 2000 RDI from the Canbric airbase consituted the French participation.
The Indian detachment in GARUDA II consisted of six Sukhoi-30K from the No.24 Squadron, Indian Air Force, "Hawks" based in Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh, roughly a 100km away from the India-Nepal Border. The Air to Air refuelling component was provided by two Illyushin Il-78MKI "Midas" of the No.78 Mid Air Refuelling Squadron from Agra Air Force base.
The Sukhois left for Bareilly taking off for the Indian base at Jamnagar on the western Indian coast on June 9th. From Jamnagar, the aircraft departed on June 12th for Jyanklis, in Egypt.
This six hour flight involved infight refuelling along the way. The aircraft took off and reached Istres on the 15th. In addition to the Illyushin 78 Refueller, an additional Illyushin 76 cargo aircraft accompanied the detachment carrying the ground support crew and equipment. The Indian detachment was led by Group Captain Shreesh Mohan.
The French detachment consisted of five Mirage 2000B and a Mirage 2000C of the E.C. 2/5 "Island of Orange France". These were soon joined by three Mirage 2000-5 of the 1 /2 "Storks" of Dijon during second half of the exercise. The Air Force had also ensured the participation of a supply craft C135 Fr of the ERV 93, of a E-3F AWACS of 36ème EDCA, several Mirage 2000N of the 3 /4 "the Limousin" and of two Tucano of the Division of Flights of Living room of Provence.
Exercise GARUDA II made it possible for the Indian airmen to familiarise themselves with the procedures and activity of a major NATO airforce. Since the exercise was held according to the procedures of NATTO, it was a new experience for the Indians. The Indians were particularly curious to find out how thier existing know how would perform in an environment with which they were not familiar.
In addition to integration in devices, the pilots of Sukho-30 would have had the occasion to operate rom the cover of the E3F AWACS. They would also get to fly refuelling sorties with the Boeing C135Fr, after ensuring that thier refuelling equipment was compatible with the French.
Similarly the French pilots would get the oppurtunity to fly and refuel from the russian Il-78! This was the first time that the French air force flew against the Sukhoi 30K and it largely benefitted from the experience, even though the Indian Air Force had not sent its much powerful Sukhoi Su30MKI version, which is the most powerful of the Sukhoi-30 variants in service today.
Unfolding of GARUDA II:
The main exercise was planned from the 17 to 28 June. It was under the control and direction of Lt Col Jean Sebastien Macke (2nd in Command of the 2/5 and the overall director of the exercise). The prinicipal aim of GARUDA II was in the execution of combined missions of air defense. After some flights of familiarisation and recognition of the aerodromes surrounding the exercise area for the benefit of the Indian Air Force Team, the fighters were divided in to two groups - "blue" force and "red" force.
The scene of the exercise area changed from the the high altitude areas from the top of the south-east of France and to the Mediterranean, depending on the tactical scenario and the complexity of the missions, which increased progressively. The various objectives of these complex missions comprised missions like protection of AWACS, Air Raids, Slow Escorts, the latter to simulate the transport aircraft and finally, missions of prohibition (No fly zone).
The first 1 Vs 2 within visual range (WVR) air combats were soon succeeded by missions like "CAP2 Vs SWEEP2", which pitted two Sukhoi-30s against two Mirage 2000s in Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Mode. By the fourth day, missions like "CAP4 Vs SWEEP4" were being flown, which consisted of two Sukhoi-30s accompanying two Mirage 2000s of Red Force fighting against a similarly composed Blue Force.
The first Air to Air Refuelling missions on the Il-78 were flown the same day in the "CAP2 Vs SWEEP2 + STRIKE2" exercise. This exercise had Mirage 2000s of the Orange flying against the Mirage 2000Ns of the 3/4 "The Limousin", escorted by two Indian Sukhoi-30s.
Each day, even half-day, saw an additional difficulties along the way. Thus, the last missions included the participation of Mirage 2000-5 of Dijon in complex scenarios of type "CAP4 Vs SWEEP6" - two Mirage 2000-5 and two Sukhoi-30 forming CAP4 and flying against four 2000RDI and two Sukhoi-30s as SWEEP 6. And the whole complex exericse was under the control of an E-3F!
The whole exercise made it possible for French pilots to fly in place in the Sukhoi-30 while the Indian crews got to test themselves with the Mirage 2000B. One can now only dream of a future exercise, GARUDA III in India, with the participation of the much awaited Sukhoi-30 MKI!
Sukhoi-30 K : SB010, SB013, SB014, SB016, SB017, SB018
Illyushin-78 MKI : RK3451, RK3452
Illyushin-76 : K3077, K2901
Photo Credits: All Photographs are copyright of Yves Fauconnier unless mentioned otherwise
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