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India, Oman conduct first joint air exercise

The first fighter level exercise between the air forces of India and Oman ended successfully at the Royal Air Force of Oman’s Thumrait airbase, according to an Indian Air Force (IAF) release here on Friday.

The six IAF Jaguars that participated in the exercise landed safely at Jamnagar after refuelling from an IL-78 MKI mid-air refueller. An IL-76, carrying the remaining team members, arrived at Gorakhpur via Jamnagar close to midnight on Thursday. The Jaguars returned to their parent airbase at Gorakhpur on Friday.

The exercises were witnessed by Chief of Staff of the Sultan of Oman’s Armed Forces Lt. Gen. Ahmed Harith Nasser, senior officials and Indian diplomats. Oman has expressed a desire to hold the exercise in India.

According to a senior IAF official, the exercise helped India practice tactical preparedness over “mixed terrain of land and desert.” Oman found the exercise useful to keep its fighter fleet in a state of operational preparedness.

The exercise is a first for both countries. But for a formal interaction in the air with the United Air Emirates last year, the IAF did not join the Gulf countries in exercises of this level. Oman in the past chose to engage either with the West or the Gulf countries.

“Exercise Eastern Bridge was a platform for the airmen of both sides to show their professional mettle and learn from each other. Unlike the IAF, seldom the RAFO pilots get an opportunity to change aircraft type once they begin to fly operationally. The exercise provided them the chance to assimilate some experience of their IAF counterparts, who have flown both western and Russian aircraft,” said the release.

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 9:29:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/India-Oman-conduct-first-joint-air-exercise/article16889518.ece

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