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IAF sets special Ops. training
Published on 19 Oct. 2009 10:58 PM IST
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The sixth edition of an annual Indian-US Air Force exercise kicked off here Monday with India looking for more operational exposure for its specialised commando force and the US eying more contracts for transport aircraft. “The IAF (Indian Air Force) Garuds will train along with the US Air Force Special Operations force to validate concepts and interoprtablity for executing special operations in a simulated hostile environment,” said Air Commodore Shouvik Roy, who is in overall charge of the Cope India exercise that concludes Oct 24. “The Garuds would be exposed to new fields such as para-rescue and combat search and rescue operations. This would help the Garuds to shape their future operational philosophy and training format and upgrade their equipment profile,” he added. The Garuds were raised in 2004 with the object of securing IAF assets -- aircraft, airfields and other infrastructure -- across the country. The Garuds are presently based on the outskirts of New Delhi. A senior IAF officer said it would be keenly studying how the US Special Operations force reacts and performs in different situations. “Our special force is very new. We would be exhibiting our skills and then would take suggestions for improvements. This is the first time such a large number of our men would be exposed to a superior force,” the officer told IANS. During the exercise, both sides will work to enhance their knowledge levels and understand the employment philosophies of both tactical and heavy-lift platforms in joint operations. Earlier exercises in India have taken place at Agra, Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh and Kalaikunda in West Bengal. Two editions of the drill have been conducted in the US. Since the theme of this year’s exercise revolves around transport aircraft, India chose the Agra Air Force Station as the venue as this is one of the largest such bases in Asia, housing a variety of transport aircraft. The IAF contingent for the exercise comprises five AN-32 medium-lift transport aircraft, one IL-76 heavy-lift aircraft, two Mi-17 helicopters, one Chetak helicopter and 250 airmen. The US Air Force has come with the giant C-17 Globemaster III, three C-130H and one C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft. India has purchased six C-130Js to be operated by the IAF for the army’s Special Forces and has expressed interest in the C-17. US Ambassador Timothy J. Roemer, in his opening remarks, said the exercise was the perfect example of how the US and Indian air forces were working together to share information, train and hone their professional skills. “I can assure the Indian Air Force it will be very pleased with its decision to purchase the C-130J. The first of them will arrive in early 2011 and the aircraft will be everything you hope it to be,” he maintained. “I’m also glad to see the mighty C-17 Globemaster, which I understand is under consideration of your ministry of defence. I would be remiss in not recognising it as a world-class strategic and tactical airlifter. Should you decide to acquire the aircraft, we will do everything we can to assist you in expanding your airlift capability,” Roemer added.

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