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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Indo-US joint fighter exercise in November

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

New Delhi April 6, IRNA
Indian Air Force's frontline Sukhoi, Mirage 2000 and upgraded Mig Bisons would cross swords with the United States Air Force F-16 fighting falcons in the second series of joint fighter exercises in November this year, reports Press Trust of India.

The pilots of the two air forces would match their skills in close range as well as beyond visual range combats over Kalaikunda airbase in West Bengal. In their first test of wits, the Indian pilots had got the better of their American counterparts in Gwalior last year.

But the contest that time had been between the US. F-15s and the Indian Su-30s and Bisons. And the US Air Force this time are bringing in their Fighting Falcons that too of Batch 50-50s, the latest upgraded series.

According to top IAF officials, 8 to 12 American F-16s would be taking part in the exercise codenamed 'Cope Thunder Three' and India, besides the Su-30MKI and Su-30K would field the Mig-27s, Mirage 2000 and Mig Bisons.

The US officials have been very keen to have a closer look at India's just acquired Su-30MKI. In the past, New Delhi has spurned invitations for the frontline fighters to visit America for taking part in multi-nation air-exercises.

India's military ties with the US in recent years has been growing.

During her latest visit, the US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice offered India access to American-made F-16 and F-18 fighter jets.

She also offered India access to civilian nuclear energy that is crucial for resolving India's energy problems. It is India's growing demand for energy that is the driving force behind the pipeline that is being conceived to carry the much needed gas to the South Asian giant's territory from Iran.

Recent news reports suggested that India was training soldiers and officers from the United States and other countries in its elite Counter Insurgency Jungle Warfare School (CIJWS) at Vairengte in the northeastern state of Mizoram.

::IRNA No.040 06/04/2005 16:06 --End

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