Just found these marvellous photos of our Sukhoi air warriors taken at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho, USA on July 17 ahead of their participation in the Red Flag exercise at Nellis air force base in Nevada which begins August 9. They'll be here till August 7 on the "warm up" phase. To quote from the US Air Force captions to these photos, "This is the first time in history the Indian air force has been on American soil to train with US fighters. They will be taking advantage of Mountain Home's vast air space and multiple ranges to better prepare their aircrews for future flying missions." The last photo is of Group Captain Ajay Rathore, the exercise coordinator and pilot who flew President Kalam in June 2006. Now I can't wait to get photos from Nellis itself!
Just incidentally, here's a piece posted two days ago on the USAF Mountain Home site about the base where the IAF Sukhois are currently warming up. Useful reading:
7/22/2008 - MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho: The Mountain Home Range Complex is an ideal location for Air Force pilots to train for the missions they may encounter while in combat.
The 366th Fighter Wing at Mountain Home Air Force Base operates, maintains and develops the MHRC which is comprised of 7,400 square miles of associated airspace and 122,000 acres of land space used for two air-to-ground training ranges, five no-drop target complexes and 30 multi-size electronic combat sites.
The MHRC supports unit-level and composite force training providing aircrews a realistic training environment to hone their combat skills.
Due to the size and capabilities of our range space, mission activities such as search and rescue training, survival training, convoy escort training and ground based air defense radar threat simulation are possible on our range. While primarily used by active duty units from Mountain Home AFB and Air National Guard units from Gowen Field Air National Guard Base in Boise, Idaho, the MHRC also supports other Air Force and Department of Defense users across the nation.
The primary air-to-ground training ranges are Saylor Creek Range, located 12 miles east of Bruneau, Idaho, and Juniper Butte Range, located 37 miles southeast of Bruneau, Idaho.
Saylor Creek Range was established in 1954 and Juniper Butte Range was established in 1998. The training range's impact areas consist of approximately 24,000 acres of exclusive use area land. The ranges provide aircrews a realistic layout of simulated targets similar to those they might encounter during actual combat, such as an airfield, an industrial complex and radar, missile, gun and artillery sites.
Although only inert training ordnance is dropped on the ranges, these munitions still pose a potential hazard to personnel and public access is not authorized on the ranges at anytime. The impact areas of the air-to-ground ranges are fenced off and warning signs are posted approximately every 600 feet. There are approximately 97,000 acres of Air Force owned, joint-use land around Saylor Creek Range where public access is permitted.
Since Saylor Creek Range has been in operation for more than 50 years, there exists a small potential to find ordnance off the impact area. While today's aircraft are highly accurate, aircraft flown 30 to 50 years ago weren't as accurate and, periodically, training ordnance was dropped off the impact area. Normally that ordnance was immediately picked up, but there still exists a small potential to find surface or subsurface ordnance. If you are in a public area near the range and find any objects that look like unexploded ordnance, do not move or disturb the object. Note the location, including directions, any landmarks, or other features that would aid in locating the object. Leave the hazard area and immediately report the object to the 366th FW Public Affairs Office at 828-6800 or the 366th FW Command Post at 828-5800. The command post can also be contacted for any other questions regarding the MHRC.
Photos Courtesy US Air Force
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