The flying missions of the Indo-United Kingdom Air Exercise “Indradhanush” began at the Kalaikunda Air Force base in West Bengal's Paschim Medinipur district on Wednesday, two days after elaborate briefings on standard operating procedures and familiarisation of the local flying area.

The exercise will conclude on November 3.

While the Indian Air Force (IAF) has fielded SU-30 MKIs, Mirage 2000s and MiG 27s for the friendly mission, the Royal Air Force is participating with Typhoon Eurofighters, E 3 D Sentry and VC-10 mid-air refuellers, according to a statement released by the Eastern Air Command here.

The IAF has also pressed into service its AWACS for the first time in a joint exercise.

The statement said the aircraft would be combined along with the crew and divided into the blue and red forces – where the red forces are the aggressors and the blue forces are on the defending side.

While the role of the participants will be changed throughout the exercise, the degree of difficulty will be increased during the mission by random denial of mid-air refuelling and radar silence among others.

The highlight of the mission is that a large number of aircraft will be operating together as well as against each other in limited time and space putting the skills of the pilots and the fighter controllers to test.