The Indian and Russian air forces began exercises in Russia’s southern Astrakhan region near the Caspian Sea on 25 August, their first drills together despite decades of close defence relations between the two countries.
The Indian Air Force (IAF), however, is not fielding any of its assets for the 10-day exercise. Instead, its fighter and helicopter pilots, missile combat crews, and engineers are operating Russian Air Force platforms and equipment.
These include Su-30SM fighters, Mi-17 transport, and Mi-35 attack helicopters, variants of which comprise a significant proportion of the IAF’s inventory.
“The exercises are viewed as a significant milestone in military relations,” the IAF said in a statement, while spokesman Group Captain Gerard Galway told IHS Jane’s that India will host Phase 2 of the drills later in 2014 or in early 2015.