New Delhi: An Indian Air Force (IAF) contingent departed for Egypt on Sunday to participate in BRIGHT STAR-23 — a biennial multilateral tri-service exercise scheduled to be held at Cairo (West) Air Base — from August 27- September 16.

Notably, this is the first time that IAF is participating in BRIGHT STAR-23 which will also see the participation of contingents from the United States of America, Saudi Arabia, Greece and Qatar, the Ministry of Defence said in a statement today.

The IAF contingent will consist of five MiG-29, two IL-78, two C-130 and two C-17 aircraft. Personnel from the IAF's Garud Special Forces, as well as those from the Numbers 28, 77, 78 and 81 Squadrons will be participating in the exercise, the statement said.

The IAF transport aircraft will also provide airlift to approximately 150 personnel from the Indian Army.

The objective of the exercise is to practice planning and execution of joint operations. Besides leading to the formation of bonding across borders, such interactions also provide a means to further strategic relations between participating nations. IAF contingents to flying exercises abroad are thus no less than Diplomats in Flight Suits, the statement said.

Meanwhile, India and Egypt have had an exceptional relationship and deep cooperation wherein the two jointly undertook the development of aero-engine and aircraft in the 1960s and the training of Egyptian pilots was done by Indian counterparts.

The relationship between the two civilizational countries was further strengthened with the recent visits by the Chief of Air Forces of the two countries and the Indian Defence Minister and Prime Minister to Egypt. The two countries have also enhanced their joint training with regular exercises between their Armed Forces.