Indian Air Force Fighter Pilots arrived for a visit of Israel as part of an aircrew exchange program between the forces. In the coming year, the cooperation between the two is expected to expand to other divisions

Tal Giladi | Translation: Ohad Zeltzer Zubida

Fighter pilots from the Indian Air Force arrived for a visit of Israel as a part of an aircrew exchange program. The visit was led by the “One” Squadron which operates the “Sufa” (F-16I) and whose aircrews’ are expected to visit India in the coming September.

The aircrew exchange program is a part of the comprehensive cooperation between the Israeli Air Force and its Indian counterpart which has strengthened in the past few years, with the purpose of creating mutual cooperation between the forces in the fields of flight, common operational challenges, technological solutions, security and training methods. During their visit the Indian aircrew members experienced the “Sufa” jets from up close and were introduced to some of the IAF’s activity centers such as the Mission Training Center, Flight Academy, SAR Unit 669 and the IAF Museum in Hazerim AFB.

“The idea behind the aircrew exchange program is creating an open and reciprocal discussion and of course feeling the love for flight, which is shared by all fighter pilots from every culture. Our mentality is similar to theirs and much of our focal points of training are similar”, said the delegation commander from the “One” Squadron, Capt. Nir.

Aircrew Exchange with the Indian Air Force

Photography: Ramon AFB PR

Learning from Each Other
Despite the geographical distance and differences in organizational structure, there are a few main similarities between the Israeli and Indian Air Forces which make the cooperation between the two efficient and enriching for both sides. The Republic of India, the seventh largest country by area in the world, deals with tactical threats of terror at its borders. “Both countries are required to respond to surprise events and face terror. This isn’t a mission connected naturally to fighter jets, but the IAF’s Fighter Division has accumulated a considerable amount of operational knowledge in managing these types of events and can contribute from it to the Indian Air Force”, said Capt. Nir.

Finding technological solutions for known or local problems is an inseparable part of the advantaged of cooperation. “The field of connectivity between aircraft interests the other side because India is very large and its fighter squadrons are far from each other”, explained Capt. Nir. For the Israeli aircrew members, acquaintance with “Sukhoi” aircraft and pilots with advanced abilities enriches their practical and strategic knowledge.

Aircrew Exchange with the Indian Air Force

Photography: Ramon AFB PR

Women in the Front
As stated, the cooperation between the Israeli Air Force and Indian Air Force is strengthening: last year, Israeli Air Force Commander, Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel visited India. In March 2016, the Indian Air Force Commander, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha visited Israel. The cooperation between the forces goes beyond the Fighter Division and is expected to widen in the coming year to the ATC and transport divisions and to the field of flight safety. Both forces operate the “Heron” UAV, and the C-130J “Super Hercules” tactical transport aircraft and want to share knowledge about the operational concept, maintenance, power build-up and training of these aircraft.

During its visit, the Indian delegation was particularly impressed with the integration of women in the Israeli Air Force’s operational divisions, and in the simulator instruction field. While women have been part of the Israeli Air Force’s combat fleet for a decade now, India will get its first women fighter pilots in June this year. Both Air Forces have women employed in many other areas including maintenance, air traffic services etc. However, the large percentage of women employed in the IAF is a source of learning for the Indian Air Force.

Aircrew Exchange with the Indian Air Force

Photography: Ramon AFB PR