New Delhi: The Indian Air Force gains by participating in international combat exercises, especially when its fighter jets are pitted against US F-16s and F-18s which are used by Pakistan, government said on Saturday.
Without naming Pakistan, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said in Lok Sabha that knowledge of close combat ability of F-16s and F-18s was important for the Western front of India.
He said the experience of flying against the F-16s was important for the IAF which has currently deployed its Sukhoi 30s and Jaguars in the ongoing exercise 'Red Flag 16-1' being held at Alaska in the US.
Responding to a supplementary on the benefit of participating in bilateral or multilateral exercises if IAF pilots don't get to fly F-16s, he said the idea is to pit IAF pilots and its machines against F-16 to understand the adversary.
He said most aircraft are lost in the first 10 clashes in a war as pilots are unable to identify the 'signature' of enemy planes. Such exercises help understand other planes better, he added.
To a question on the flaws and shortcomings found following the Alaska exercise, he said when the IAF contingent returns in June, then the work on understanding the achievements and shortfalls will begin.
Pakistan uses the F-16 fighter jets. The US government has made a case to the US Congress to sell eight new F-16s to Pakistan to assist its counter-terror and counter-insurgency operations.