Exercise Eastern Bridge with Oman Air Force begins

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Thumrait (Oman), Oct 23 (ANI): In order to extend the hand of friendship and to share their experience with various air forces of the world, the Indian Air Force bilateral exercise with Royal Air Force of Oman (RAFO) commenced today in Thurmait.

Six IAF Jaguars in two formations of three aircraft each arrived over the sprawling RAFO airbase on Thursday afternoon, heralding the start of the weeklong joint air exercise between the two air forces.

Exercise 'Eastern Bridge' will see RAFO Jaguars and F-16 Block 50+ fighters operating for the first time alongside IAF Jaguars.

The RAFO fighters participating in the air exercise are based at Thumrait, the IAF Jaguars have flown in from Gorakhpur airbase in Uttar Pradesh.

This will be the first-ever air exercise between the two countries. Incidentally, the two air forces are the only ones that continue to operate the twin-engine Jaguar aircraft till date.

The main IAF contingent comprises 33 officers and 65 personnel below officer rank (PBOR).

The support team of IL-76 and IL-78 MKI additionally comprises 12 officers and 26 PBOR. Group Captain V Dedgaonkar is the team leader, while Group Captain K Kale is the Exercise Director for the IAF.

RAFO Thumrait Station Commander, Air Commodore Matar Bin Ali Bin Matar Al-Obadani and Commanding Officers (CO) of the two RAFO Jaguar squadrons and the F-16 squadron, welcomed the IAF pilots on arrival.

The IAF formations on arrival carried out a swift fly-past over Thumrait airfield at 500 feet before peeling off to land individually.

The fighter aircrafts took-off from the Jamnagar airbase in Gujarat on Thursday morning, accompanied by two Flight Refueller Aircraft IL-78 MKIs which refuelled the fighters twice over their three-hour flight over the Arabian Sea at 20,000 feet before arriving here.

IAF team leader, Group Captain VV Dedgaonkar thanked RAFO Thumrait Station Commander and all personnel.

"IAF creates history by bringing in fighters to Oman," he said.

Exercise 'Eastern Bridge' will be a weeklong bilateral air exercise and will end on Oct 29. (ANI)

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