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Russia, India troops assemble for joint air drills
August 26, 2014, 4:44 am

The drills involve joint flights with mixed Russian-Indian crews on Su-30 SM “Flanker-C” aircraft, Mil Mi-35 “Hind E” and Mi-8 “Hip” helicopters [AP]

The drills involve joint flights with mixed Russian-Indian crews on Su-30 SM “Flanker-C” aircraft, Mil Mi-35 “Hind E” and Mi-8 “Hip” helicopters [AP]

BRICS members, India and Russia on Monday started their first joint air exercise in Lipetsk in Russia to boost cooperation between their air forces, said the Indian Air Force ( IAF).

“Ex Avia Indra-2014 commenced today at Astrakhan region, near the Caspian Sea in Russia. The exercises will continue for 10 days and would be concluded on Sept. 5,” an IAF release said.

It is “seen as a major mile stone in military relations. This involves participation of fighter pilots, helicopter pilots, missile combat crew, as well as engineers from the IAF,” it said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to visit India in December this year.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Klimov released details of the drill to the press on Monday in Moscow. The official start date of the drills is August 29.

The drills involve joint flights with mixed Russian-Indian crews on Su-30 SM “Flanker-C” aircraft, Mil Mi-35 “Hind E” and Mi-8 “Hip” helicopters at Pogonovo and Ashuluk testing ranges in the Voronezh and Astrakhan regions respectively.

Su-30 SM “Flanker-C” crews will also carry out air refueling from the Ilyushin Il-78 “Midas” aerial refueling tanker while the mixed anti-aircraft teams will repel a simulated aggressor’s attack with the S-300 (SA-10) “Grumble” and S-400 (SA-21) “Growler” anti-aircraft systems, the Buk-M1 “Grizzly” surface-to-air missile system and the Pantsir-S1 (SA-22) “Greyhound” surface-to-air missile/anti-aircraft artillery systems.

On July 17-19, Russia and India conducted the joint naval exercise Indra 2014 in Vladivostok. The Indian fleet included the INS Ranvijay destroyer, the INS Shivalik frigate and INS Shakti fleet tanker. Russia deployed the Varyag guided-missile cruiser, the Admiral Vinogradov destroyer and the Peresvet large landing ship.

The two countries have already had INDRA-series war games between their armies and navies.

The two air forces will also hold discussions on air defense and their missile combat crew will interact with each other and participate in air defense exercises, said the IAF.

“It will also provide an opportunity to both the forces for exchange of best practices and will cement the foundation for a more professional interaction and growth in the future,” the IAF said.

Russia is the major supplier of defence equipment to India and Russian-origin aircraft such as the Su-30MKI and MiG-series planes are the mainstay of its air power.

Moscow and New Delhi are also discussing the possibility of a new oil pipeline between Russia to India which will run parallel to the $7.6 billion Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline.

Russian and Indian officials are negotiating a $40 billion gas pipeline project from Russia to India, oil ministry officials told Indian daily Hindustan Times earlier this month.

“Russia so far has directed majority of its oil and gas supplies to the West… however, the scenario may be quiet different in the coming years especially in the wake of its gas pipeline to China and the one now proposed till India,” an Indian government official said.

 

 TBP and Agencies

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