• 2004 – meet and fight (under albeit very favorable terms for the home team) “vanilla” USAF F-15′s (non-AESA birds) with your new SU-30′s;
• 2006 – do it again, but this time against F-16′s;
• 2008 - Join up in RED FLAG flying with 4th and 5th gen fighters against adversary air (but never going beak-to-beak with the likes of the Rafaels or Gripens while the F-22 was MIA for RF ’08)…
For the first time, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is deploying its most potent Sukhoi-30MKI fighters in Kashmir. Reflecting its new assertiveness, the IAF wants to whet its war-waging prowess in a troubled sector where India has to defend itself from Pakistan and China.
The introduction of Su-30MKIs – which can carry eight tonnes of armament including nuclear bombs – in Srinagar comes at a time when Pakistan’s air force is acquiring new F-16s from the US and JF-17 ‘Thunder’ jets from China. The IAF’s combat fleet consists of some 60 Su-30MKI aircraft housed at Lohegaon near Pune and Bareilly.
The six Su-30MKI fighters based at Srinagar (home to MiG-21 Bison fighters) will carry out “pervasive missions” in the coming days not only over Kashmir skies but also cover the Ladakh sector, including the rugged mountains of Kargil.
For reference, Islamabad, lies a little over 85 nm from the base at Srinagar (the orange lines demark the outline of the disputed boundaries in the Northern Areas):