Wednesday, October 14, 2009

IAF may use Su-30MKI to hunt for pirates in Gulf of Aden


Indian Air Force (IAF) may deploy fighter jets for carrying out anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden, a top IAF official revealed on Wednesday. IAF Vice-Chief Air Marshal P.K. Barbora said the air force could be called upon to support anti-piracy operations off the Somalian coast to deal with the expanding footprint of the pirates.

“If the swatch becomes any bigger, the navy may not be able to cover the entire area due to constraints of speed and vessels. This is when the IAF may be asked to offer help,” said Barbora, on the first-ever Indo-Oman air exercise, codenamed Eastern Bridge, from October 22-29. He said, “We may not necessarily employ firepower... we can send fighters to carry out patrols (over pirate-infested waters). The Sukhoi-30 has great endurance.”

He said the war games could prove beneficial with regard to any future deployment in anti-piracy operations, taking into accounting Oman’s geographical location. The IAF is flying six Jaguars, two IL-78 midair refuelers and 136 personnel to the Thumrait airbase in southern Oman for the exercise. The ambit of the exercise will encompass live firing, operations in desert terrain and integrated air-to-ground missions. The Royal Air Force of Oman is the only other air force in the world to operate the Jaguars. It also operates F-16s.

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