Indian Air Force on Saturday said it has decided not to deploy aircraft in multi-lateral air exercise in UK next month in light of 'recent events'

The Indian Air Force on Saturday announced that it has decided not to deploy aircraft in multi-lateral air exercise in UK next month in light of "recent events." Five TEJAS fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force were to be deployed for exercise Cobra Warrior 2022 at Waddington in the UK from March 6 to 27. India’s light combat aircraft (LCA) TEJAS was all set to make its debut on foreign soil next month, officials familiar with the matter had informed earlier in the week.

Five TEJAS aircraft was to participate in the exercise with IAF’s C-17 heavy-lifters providing transport support for induction and de-induction. TEJAS MK-1 fighter jets took part in the Singapore Air Show from February 15 to 18, with the move aimed at tapping the export potential of the locally-made LCA. Three TEJAS MK-1 jets will take part in the air show. The aircraft previously took in the Malaysia, Dubai and Bahrain air shows but have never participated in a combat exercise in a foreign country. The TEJAS’s participation in the Singapore air show came in the backdrop of India taking steps to transform itself from one of the world’s biggest weapons importers into an export powerhouse. The military hardware that holds export potential includes TEJAS, Astra beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile, Akash surface-to-air missile system, BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles, tanks, sonars and a variety of radars, officials said.

Meanwhile, amid Russian military operations in Ukraine, the Indian Air Force (IAF) on Friday said it is geared for the evacuation of Indian nationals stranded in Ukraine. "Indian Air Force is geared up for any requirements of the evacuation of our citizens from Ukraine," IAF spokesperson Wing Commander Ashish Moghe told ANI when asked about the possibility of its planes going for bringing back Indian nationals.

The IAF has the C-17 Globemasters and the Ilyushin-76 transport aircraft which can go such long distances and evacuate Indian nationals from Ukraine. The aircraft of both the fleets are ready and whenever required, they can be sent to help the Indian citizens including students studying there in different educational institutes. The IAF played a key role recently in bringing back Indian citizens and officials stranded in Afghanistan following the Taliban's take over the country.

Ukraine has closed its airspace after Russia launched a military operation against it. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has sent teams to the land borders with Ukraine in Hungary, Poland, Slovak Republic and Romania to assist the evacuation of Indian nationals.