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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Indian MiG-27 flying alongside F-16 of the Singapore Air Force [Photograph]

Each year, India plays host to the Singapore Army & their Air Force, the Republic of Singapore Air Force [RSAF], as they arrive in India, to carry out their annual military training exercise. This unique arrangement, agreed upon by the two countries, arises from the fact that Singapore itself has insufficient land mass or airspace to undertake such exercise, required to hone & sharpen skills, on its own soil. Their Air Force bases itself in Indian Air Force's Kalaikunda Air Force Station in the state of West Bengal, while the Army has been conducting their war games in the ranges of Babina [Uttar Pradesh] & Deolali [Maharashtra].

This, naturally, should work to the mutual advantage of both nations involved. The Indian Air Force [IAF], I presume, benefits a shade more than the other branches of the Indian Armed Forces, from this annual engagement. This is because, Singapore's Air Force fly, now Lockheed Martin's, F-16 multi-role combat aircraft [Block 52 (C&D variants) & also an advanced variant of the Block 52 (Block 52+)]. The same aircraft, albeit, flying mostly older variants, form the spearhead of Pakistan Air Force's [PAF] fighter fleet. Thus, for the Indian Air Force, this yearly engagement with the Fighting Falcons must be helping it gain a great deal of understanding of the aircraft's flying characteristics, learning of its Achilles Heels that could be exploited. This, thereafter, could help IAF fine tune it tactics, needed to neutralise the bandits, in event of any future confrontation [someone had, sardonically, perhaps more appropriately, referred to the PAF as bandicoots].


Whether it is happening or not, not aware of it with any sense of certainty. However, such undertaking would only be a natural progression of the military engagements between the two nations.  This organic evolution of military relationship between the two nations, should owe its genesis, in no small measures, to the idea of national security, which runs nearly parallel for most parts & threat perceptions, that may well be described as common to the two.

In fact, a statement from the Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr. Lee Hsien Loong, bears testimony to infallible sense of trust & faith reposed by the two in each other. He has been quoted to have said that, "India should consider Singapore as its last outpost".

Kalaikunda, being home to the No. 18 Squadron [Flying Bullets] of the Indian Air Force, which currently fly the MiG-27s & MiG-21 FN of the Operational Conversion Unit [OCU], these aircraft too take part in these exercises from the Indian side. I was looking up something else, when I accidentally stumbled upon this photograph. It shows an Indian Air Force MiG-27 flying alongside Singapore Air Force's F-16 aircraft. The photograph was shot during their exercise in 2010.

A somewhat rare photograph, to see an IAF MiG-27, which recently received a life-extension upgrade, during an exercise with a foreign Air Force.



This year, too, the Singapore Armed Forces visited India. The Army conducted exercises in the month of March, while their Air Force, flew in with their Block 52+ aircrafts in October for a 2 month long exercise, which culminated on the 9th of December.