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Indian jets head to head with RSAF F-16s at SINDEX

November 8, 2006 (by Lieven Dewitte) - A joint Indo-Singapore air force exercise, codenamed "SINDEX" commenced today at Air Station Kalaikunda in India. This is the third such exercise between the Republic of Singapore Air Force and the Indian Air Force.

RSAF F-16C block 52 #97-0120 from the 425th FS is flaring with its nose high for landing at Luke AFB. [Photo by Jason Hyatt]

The exercise, which will run until November 30th, hopes to strengthen defence cooperation between the two countries and to allow the air forces to learn from each other’s operational philosophy and tactics.

The IAF has fielded its MiG-27 and upgraded MiG-21 Bisons against the Singapore F-16s. The Indian Air Forcee had earlier used frontline jets like the Sukhoi 30, Mirage 2000 and other fighters against F-16s -- the mainstay of Pakistan's fighter fleet -- during earlier exercises with the US Air Force, Thai Air Force and Singapore Air Force.

The for example United States deployed 12 F-16 CJs from Misawa and Kadena to Kalaikunda Air Base for the Cope India exercise in November last year.

"The tactics being fine-tuned by the two air forces are dissimilar air combat, air defence and ground support," an IAF spokesman declared.

Besides the pilots, fighter controllers, air traffic controllers and radar system operators of both the air forces will participate in the exercise. A host of other support staff will also be involved in managing engineering, logistics and administrative issues.

Air Force Station Kalaikunda in Kharagpur, West Bengal, came into existence during the Second World War as a forward airfield. This base has played a vital role in all the wars fought by India. It has recently been upgraded and at present, it is one of the major IAF air bases for hosting international air exercises.

The inaugural bilateral exercise between the RSAF and the IAF, SINDEX 04, was held in October 04 at Gwalior Air Force Station. The RSAF participated with six F-16C/Ds supported by 2 tankers and 1 transport plane whereas India operated the Sukhoi-30, MiG-27 and Mirage 2000 aircraft. The second exercise ran from 03 to 20 January in which eight RSAF F-16s participated.