Hyderabad: Exercise Desert Flag–VI, an annual, multi-lateral, large force employment exercise hosted by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), ended on 27 March with the de-induction of the Indian contingent from UAE.

The sixth edition of the exercise was conducted from 4 March to 27 March at the Air Force Base Al Dhafra, UAE.

Underlining the growing security ties between India and the UAE, the Indian Air Force (IAF) participated in the exercise for the first time, fielding Sukhoi-30MKI fighter aircraft. Besides India, six countries - UAE, USA, France, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain - participated with aerial assets. Jordan, Greece, Qatar, Egypt, and South Korea participated as observer forces.

The objectives of the exercise were to expose coalition participating forces to large force employment, sharpen tactical capabilities, and enhance interoperability along with fostering closer relations between the participating forces. The aim for the participating crew and specialist observers was to expose them to operational environment in scenarios requiring multinational forces working together. Timely and seamless induction and de-induction were facilitated by IAF C-17 Globe master aircraft.

During the exercise, IAF flew Large Force Engagement (LFE) missions in a near realistic environment involving many aircraft of varied types. IAF successfully undertook all the planned missions, both by day and night, without any mission abort. All possible assistance was provided by UAE Air Force ensuring that all planned activities were completed in time.

"IAF has been actively participating in operational international exercises, wherein collaborative engagements are enhanced. A multinational exercise in UAE with friendly forces afforded a unique opportunity to gain valuable learning to all the participating forces. The knowledge gained, lessons learned, and bonds made during the course of Ex Desert Flag-VI will go a long way in bolstering the professional capabilities of the participating forces," said the Indian Defence ministry.

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