Exercise Indradhanush: Flankers And Typhoons Battle In British Skies


The British Royal Air Force (RAF) and Indian Air Force (IAF) have hailed the success of a major exercise which saw the deployment of four Sukhoi Su-30MKI ‘Flankers’ to the U.K. to fly with and fight against the RAF’s Eurofighter Typhoon.

Exercise Indradhanush IV (Hindi: Rainbow) concluded on July 30 following intensive flying operations with RAF Typhoon squadrons from RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire. Ten IAF crews including 15 pilots and five weapon systems operators flew twice daily missions, often flying all four Su-30s on air-to-air training missions flying beyond visual range (BVR) and within visual range (WVR) engagements with the Typhoon.

This is the fourth iteration of the exercise, with the British and Indians taking it in turns to visit each other's shores.

The last time the Indians deployed to the U.K. was in 2007.

The Su-30s came from 2 Sqn – the Winged Arrows – based at Tezpur near India’s frontier with China.

The Flanker pilots were also able to use their thrust-vectoring control (TVC) “super-maneuverability” capability activated by flipping a switch in the cockpit. One pilot told Aviation Week that they had used the yaw capability of the TVC to remain inside the tight turn radius of the Typhoon in order to keep the Typhoon in missile launch parameters.

It was not possible to assess which aircraft, if any, had the upper hand in air combat, pilots and commanders remained tight lipped on the results of any dogfighting.

RAF Wg. Cmdr. Chris Moon, commanding officer of 3 (Fighter) Sqn which led the exercise said that participants had adopted a “crawl, walk, run approach” with Indian crews familiarizing themselves with U.K. airspace regulations before taking on the Typhoons in 1vs1, 2vs1 and increasingly complex engagements. The last exercise mission saw all four Flankers working with six Typhoons to escort and support two C-130J Hercules on a paradropping mission. They were opposed by 8-10 red-air Typhoons.

The exercise also saw the use of an Indian C-17 and an Il-78 tanker aircraft. The Il-78 operated alongside an RAF A330 Voyager tanker over the North Sea. While the Su-30s could have refueled from the Voyager, they were not cleared to, as a result fighters refueled from their national assets.

At least two RAF pilots got to fly in the back seat of the Su-30 during exchange sorties on July 30.

All Indian aircraft left the U.K. on July 31.

Discuss this Blog Entry 28

on Jul 31, 2015

Flanker out turns Typhoon, I guess that was to be expected. I can't wait to hear more. The Su-30 is hard to beat, but the Typhoon was designed with that in mind.

on Aug 3, 2015

Not to worry. It's true, the Flanker can do all kinds of "wowee!" maneuvers. But a very capable Typhoon pilot can still prevail in a dogfight. "Turning on a dime" will not guarantee a kill........realhotpilot sez so!

on Jul 31, 2015

So If I sum up all our military arsenal is useless!!!! A part maybe the Rafale and the raptor witch has to be confirmed!!!!

on Jul 31, 2015

If the pilots remained silent is a way to say that the result was ugly for the typhoons!!!

on Jul 31, 2015

"The Flanker pilots were also able to use their thrust-vectoring control (TVC) “super-maneuverability” capability activated by flipping a switch in the cockpit. One pilot told Aviation Week that they had used the yaw capability of the TVC to remain inside the tight turn radius of the Typhoon in order to keep the Typhoon in missile launch parameters."
Pretty cool that an aircraft without TVC is able to fly such extraordinary tight turns.
I don't believe the Su's outperform the Typhoons, on the contrary - the reason for silence is obvious: don't lose the advantage of surprise...

on Jul 31, 2015

why are all the pictures showing the flankers without ordinance? Do they fly empty and just paint with sensors for kills or did they test the "super"- maneuverability with a typical load also? (also the typhoons have just drop tanks fitted?? - surely that can't help the 'ol turn radius!)

on Aug 1, 2015

The Flankers did not carry any ordnance, all weapons were simulated with common weapon ranges set before the exercise.

on Aug 3, 2015

Probably had the old ACMI load out or something similar.

on Aug 1, 2015

Comments from previous UK Indian exercises suggested the typhoon clearly out performed the S-30's

Cocidius (not verified)
on Aug 1, 2015

Tony - any word on if the Indian Flankers were allowed to fully use their
ND11M Bars radar this time around?

on Aug 1, 2015

Cocidius, the Indian Air Force said the radars were used on this occasion, no Combat Sent sniffing around this time, it seems!

on Aug 1, 2015

I'm sure there was some electronic snooping going on...no doubt
I mean, it isn't like we don't know about the radar alread....__$#*()#$*)++++carrier lost............

on Aug 8, 2015

While it's nice the Flankers' radar was full-on for these exercises (held over the same country that has most of NSA's out-of-country snooping antennas on its soil), the implications for radar on RUSSIAN Flankers are less certain. The Russians (and before them, the Soviets) NEVER sold a fully-operational weapons system more complex than a hand-held rocket launcher to a foreign country not closely allied to them. I think we can assume that to still be the case. The avionics fit and especially the radar firmware on the Indian Su-30 isn't the same as on Su-30's in the rodina - bet on it.

on Aug 2, 2015

Aw shucks, IMHO this is the way the battles should be fought, everywhere, to keep the skills honed, just in case (si vis pacem, para bellum). Only the big boys with their heavy metal playing the "who's-the-king-of-the-hill", no blood involved, just the money. The reality is much grimmer, sad to say - the world around us seems getting sicker by the day, doesn't it?

on Aug 3, 2015

The Flanker is certainly the better looking plane.

on Aug 3, 2015

The old saying...If it looks right, it'll fly right........... probably rings true in this case. But the Typhoon just looks like it's ready for a close-in fight and will probably win.

on Aug 8, 2015

While the A-10 is so butt-ugly the US Air Force has tried to send it to the Boneyard almost from IOC, but has been the terror of every enemy force which uses armor and mechanized infantry, and the F-22 Raptor won't be winning beauty contests, either... just head-to-head fighter contests (an Air National Guard F-22 unit skunked a Romanian Air Force squadron flying the Gripen not too long ago).

on Sep 28, 2015

funny, the Romanians neither have nor plan to buy Gripens at all.

Comment edited by staff.

on Jan 23, 2016

Exactly ... I like the design very much

on Aug 3, 2015

Whichever may be the better aircraft in combat the final outcome will depend on the mission, tactics employed, the C&R system and the environment. Indradhanush has tremendous value in terms of training as well as strengthening the strong relationship between the two air forces.

on Aug 3, 2015

Great exercises with an ally. Simple as that.

on Aug 4, 2015


on Aug 5, 2015

Seems like some are missing the point. This is a familiarity and experience exercise. ROE is tight, post mortem evals are the point. The 'victories' are not the point. These guys already know the ultimate capabilities before strapping in.

on Aug 5, 2015

That's partly true. But do "our guys" know the NEWLY acquired capabilities of the "other guys?" Maybe they learned some new moves and tactics since they were in town last time...........maybe another perfectly legal "silver bullet" on one of the hard points......?

on Aug 6, 2015

Some funny elitist comments from fanboys ..

The IAF is claiming a 12 - 0 scoreline in favour of the flankers WVR engagements. More impressively a 2 - 0 score line in a 1 v 2 WVR combat. i.e. both typhoons got shot down by 1 flanker. So much for Britains new Air dominance fighter.

Its all over the Indian press. Chew on that for someime

on Aug 6, 2015

And would india have shortlisted typhoon for mmrca if they had a plane to better it already ?

That a twin talied plane with tvc might better a typhoon in a low speed dogfight is believeable (hence amk) but how relevant is this when the typhoon and i guess the flanker to both have hmd and hobs missiles.? Even if true the Roe would appear to play to the flankers strength and the typhoons weakness ?

on Aug 6, 2015

realhotpilot has egg on his face and will have to eat crow! I remember when the late Neil Anderson (first test pilot on F-16) saw the SU-27 Flanker at the Paris Airshow.....he said: "Nuthin' will turn with an SU-27 Flanker." That was in 1989. It still rings true! Why hasn't the West built an aircraft with similar capabilities? The long chines obviously have something do with it's turning radius!

on Aug 8, 2015

Because we prefer dynamically astable aircraft whose tight turning radii come with all sorts of other capabilities. F-22s can thrust vector, just as the Su-30 MKI/"Flanker-H" can. I'd love to see a friendly dust-up between some F-22s and Indian Su-30 MKIs, but so would the Russian Air Force and Sukhoi, so I guess any such practice engagements will never see the light of day.

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