Five Mirage-2000 jets, two C-17 Globemaster-III strategic airlift planes and one IL-78 mid-air refuelling aircraft, along with 145 IAF personnel, flew from the Jamnagar air-base for the exercise at Waddington in the UK.
“The Cobra Warrior, scheduled from March 6 to 24, is a multilateral exercise in which air forces from the US, Finland, Sweden, South Africa and Singapore will be participating, alongside the Royal Air Force and IAF. The aim is to participate in diverse fighter aircraft engagements and learn from the best practices of various air forces,” IAF spokesperson Wing Commander Ashish Moghe said.
The IAF already has five indigenous Tejas fighters, two C-17s and 110 personnel deployed at the Al Dhafra air base in UAE for the multi-nation ‘Desert Flag-VIII’ exercise from February 27 to March 17, as was reported by TOI.
The Indian armed forces take part in a wide array of land, air and sea combat exercises every year to bolster military interoperability and defence diplomacy with friendly countries.
“The exercises build strategic cooperation with like-minded countries, with the armed forces also getting the opportunity to improve combat skills and operational tactics,” an officer said.
The IAF has three Mirage-2000 squadrons based at the Gwalior air base. Though inducted in the mid-1980s from France, the bulk of the Mirage-2000s have been upgraded under a major Rs 17,547 crore project, which includes 490 MICA missile systems for Rs 6,600 crore.
It was, incidentally, the Mirage-2000s that were used to fire Israeli Spice-2000 precision-guided penetration bombs during the pre-dawn bombing of the JeM terror facility at Balakot in Pakistan on February 26 in 2019.