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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Indian, French air forces stage war games

KALAIKUNDA AIRBASE, India (AFP) - Indian and French air forces fielded some of their deadliest combat aircraft in mock fights and aerobatic displays during a joint exercise.

Fighter planes tore through the skies demonstrating their capabilities in front of hundreds of people at the Kalaikunda airbase in West Bengal state, of which Kolkata is the capital, on Wednesday

The Indian Air Force -- the world's fourth largest -- pitted its Russian-built Sukhois and MiGs and the French-made Mirage 2000 against France's M2000D, Dash 5 and Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft.

"Nearly 480 sorties have been flown by both sides which included air combat missions, basic fighter manoeuvres and large force engagements," Air Marshal P.K Barbora told reporters.

"Kalaikunda has huge airspace and the French pilots were focused on real-life operation. Our pilots have gained much experience from the exercise," said French Air Chief Marshal Patrick de Rousiers.

"I have seen such exercises, but this was extraordinary."

Around 300 Indian and 150 French pilots took part in the joint air exercise involving 26 fighter jets.

Observers from Canada and Germany also attended the exercise.
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