Indra Dhanush 2010 concludes but UK hopes of selling Harriers is dashed

By all accounts both the IAF and the RAF are very satisfied with the joint exercise Indra Dhanush 2010 which has just concluded. But UK hopes of selling the Harrier seem to have stalled. The Financial Times reports that

Britain has hit an early obstacle in its bid to sell its fleet of Harrier jump jets after India, the most promising potential buyer, described the aircraft as “iffy” and obsolete.

Air Chief Marshall PV Naik, the head of the Indian Air Force, said on Tuesday he would be looking to acquire modern aircraft of fourth-generation capabilities or better. “The Harrier doesn’t fit into that category,” the Air Chief Marshall said. His dismissive remarks over the “iffy” Harrier came soon after Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton, the chief of the UK air staff, acknowledged the possibility of a sale while paying a visit to India to boost military co-operation and exports.

The distinct lack of interest shown in the Harrier, which was decommissioned in the defence review primarily on grounds of cost, will be a blow to ministers who are seeking to generate some much-needed revenue from the disposal.

Air Chief Mashall Naik’s words will particularly sting because the Ministry of Defence has spent more than £500m upgrading the Harrier avionics over the last five years and the jets could potentially remain in service until the mid 2020s.

Sify News reports the conclusion of the exercise:

The joint air force drill between India and United Kingdom (UK) held under the banner of ‘Indradhanush’-III at Air Force Station Kalaikunda in West Bengal’s West Midnapore District concluded on Tuesday. The Royal Air Force of UK participated with modern Typhoon Eurofighters, the E-3D Sentry, and VC-10 mid air re-fueller, while the Indian Air Force (IAF) fielded the SU-30 MKIs, Mirage 2000s, Mig 27s and its AWACS for the first time in a joint Air Exercise.


Eurofighter Typhoon

Eurofighter Typhoon: Image by Destinys Agent via Flickr


Pilots of the Royal Air Force said that the purpose of this exercise was to enhance understanding between the Royal Air Force and the Indian Air Force. “The whole purpose of the exercise of the ‘Indradhanush’ has been to enhance understanding between the Royal Air Force and the Indian Air Force and whosoever increase…competence as an Air Force and it’s been on air front a very, very successful exercise,” said Guy Lockwood, a pilot of the Royal Air Force of United Kingdom.

“We have learned good things from them. They follow the NATO procedures, we follow our own. When we fought together we realised they have got some good things, they realised that we have also got some good tactics, we fought together, so it was a good experience,” said Susil Kumar, a pilot of the IAF.

During the initial two-days of the exercise on October 18 and 19, elaborate briefings on standard operating procedures, rules of exercise and familiarisation of the local flying area was carried out.

The exercise ‘Indradhanush’ began on October 21 and continued for 12-days.


Day 3 at Kalaikunda: image



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