National Defence Bureau,
New Delhi, 25 October 2019
Exercise Eastern Bridge is a biennial exercise between IAF & RAFO. The aim of this exercise is to provide operational exposure to all the participants and undertake mutual exchange of best practices towards enhancing operational capability of both the Air Forces. The first edition of the exercise was conducted at RAFO AFB Thumrait in 2009. The second edition in 2011 & fourth edition in 2017, were conducted at AFS Base Jamnagar, India. The fouth edition of the exercise saw participation of RAFO’s F-16 fighter aircraft outside GCC for the first time. The third edition in 2013 was conducted at RAFO AFB Masirah, Oman.
The ongoing Eastern Bridge-V was conducted at RAFO AFB Masirah, Oman from 17 Oct- 26 Oct 19. The IAF team was led by Group Captain Brijesh Paul, comprising of Five MiG-29 Upgrade multi-role fighter aircraft.
IAF’s MiG-29 UPG aircraft exercised along with RAFO’s Eurofighter Typhoon, F-16 & Hawks. This was the maiden participation by the IAF’s MiG-29 UPG aircraft in an international exercise outside India. The Mig-29 UPG is a modern multi-role fighter jet of IAF, with air-to-air & air-to-ground capability, coupled with Air-to-air Refuelling.
The IAF contingent was provided transport support for induction & de-induction by two C-17 Globemaster aircraft. The larger objectives laid down for exercise were to foster closer ties between the forces of both countries & to promote interoperability through exchange of knowledge & experience, along with tactical lessons to be drawn as the exercise progressed.
During the exercise , the CAS ACM RKS Bhadauria was hosted by Air Vice Marshal Matar Bin Ali Al Obaidani, Commander RAFO at RAFO base Masirah on 24 Oct 19. He was accompanied by Ambassador of India to Oman, Shri Munu Mahawar.
During the visit, the CAS met IAF & RAFO contingents participating in Ex Eastern Bridge V. He was briefed in detail about various aspects of the exercise & its progress.
The exercise will greatly enhance mutual understanding & further strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries. It was an exceptional learning experience for the participants and IAF team will carry memories of this wonderful opportunity & interaction.
Shailesh Kumar is an independent journalist with over 15 years of experience in crime, political and defence reporting for leading media brands including Star News, India TV and NewsX. He is the founder editor of defence and security news portal, National Defence.