New Delhi: Close on the heels of a high-profile war game launched by the Chinese army, the Indian and US armies and air forces will simultaneously conduct their largest joint drill in October that will feature a variety of armoured vehicles, medium and heavy lift aircraft and helicopters, an official said.
The army element of the exercise will be conducted at Babina in Uttar Pradesh, while the two air forces will engage each other at the Taj Mahal town of Agra.
The US Army will move a fleet of of eight-wheeled Stryker armoured combat vehicles from its Pacific Command headquarters in Hawaii to Babina for operation "Yudh Abhyas" against which will be deployed the Indian Army`s T-72 main battle tanks of the 31 Armoured Division that guards India`s scorching desert border with Pakistan.
This will be the largest deployment of Strykers, which can withstand rocket-propelled grenades, outside Iraq and Afghanistan. At least 500 American soldiers, mostly drawn from the 2nd Stryker Brigade will participate in the war games.
The aerial element will see the Indian Air Force (IAF) fielding the Il-76, its largest transport aircraft, as also AN-32 medium lift transports and and Mi-17 helicopters. Ranged against them will be US Air Force (USAF) C-17 Globemasters, C-130 J Super Hercules - of which the IAF has ordered six - and C-130 H transport aircraft.
Nearly 200 IAF and 160 USAF personnel will participate in the exercise.
"The exercise is aimed at evaluating the efficacy of joint operations in the realm of tactics, aero-medical aspects and combat search and rescue (CSAR) missions involving medium and heavy lift transport aircraft," an IAF spokesperson said.
China has deployed close to 50,000 troops in its biggest cross-country tactical mobilisation exercise that has sent alarm bells ringing in India as it is being seen as Beijing`s efforts to improve its ability to deploy troops in Tibet whenever reinforcements are required.