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IAF To Deploy LCA Tejas In International Air Exercise Desert Flag VIII For The First Time

The IAF's participation in the exercise will provide its pilots valuable training opportunities and enhance their interoperability with other air forces.


Image: Twitter/@IAF_MCC

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has deployed a contingent comprising 110 Air Warriors participating in the multilateral Exercise Desert Flag. Exercise Desert Storm is scheduled to be held at United Arab Emirates Al Dhafra airbase from February 27 to March 17, 2023. This is the eighth edition of the biennial multilateral aerial exercise.

The IAF is participating in the exercise with five Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas and two C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft, the Indian Ministry of Defence revealed in a press release. Notably, this is the first instance when indigenously developed LCA Tejas will see participation in an international flying exercise outside the country. Meanwhile, Exercise Desert Flag will incorporate participation from the air forces of France, Australia, Bahrain, Spain, Morocco, Kuwait, the UK, the US, the Republic of Korea, and the UAE. Notably, LCA Tejas has seen participation in various international air exercises, including Exercise Pitch Black, Exercise Gagan Shakti, Bahrain International Airshow and Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA).

Significance of Exercise Desert Flag VIII for the IAF

Desert Flag is a multinational air exercise hosted by the United Arab Emirates Air Force (UAEAF) since 2009. The aim of the exercise is to provide realistic air combat training to participating air forces and to strengthen military relationships between the participating nations. The exercise is conducted at the UAE's Al-Dhafra Air Base, which is also home to the UAE's F-16 and Mirage 2000 fighter squadrons.

Image: PIB (The IAF Contingent participating in Ex Desert Flag VIII in UAE)

Notably, Exercise Desert Flag involves a range of air combat scenarios, including air-to-air and air-to-ground missions, and is typically attended by a variety of international participants. The Indian Air Force first participated in Exercise Desert Flag in 2018, with six Su-30MKI fighter jets and a C-17 transport aircraft. The IAF's participation in the exercise is significant as it provides valuable training opportunities for IAF pilots and enhances their interoperability with other air forces.

Exercise Desert Flag will also help strengthen military ties between India and the UAE, which have been steadily growing in recent years. The multilateral air exercise demonstrates the growing strategic partnership between India and the UAE. Additionally, Exercise Desert Flag enables the Indian Air Force to showcase its capabilities to the international community. The Indian Air Force has been modernizing and upgrading its fleet, and its participation in such exercises helps to demonstrate its capabilities to other countries.

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