Cairo: Indian Air Force (IAF) IL-78 air-to-air refuelling aircraft refuelled aircraft from the Egyptian Air Force during Exercise BRIGHT STAR-23, informed Indian Air Force on Sunday.

Taking to X, (formerly Twitter), IAF said, “Showcasing the bonds of friendship in the skies over Egypt during Exercise Bright Star, where the Indian Air Force IL-78 air-to-air refuelling aircraft refuelled aircraft from the Egyptian Air Force”.

Earlier, in a significant move towards fostering global defence cooperation, an Indian Air Force (IAF) contingent reached the Egyptian Air Force Base to participate in Exercise BRIGHT STAR-23 on Monday.

“Touchdown at the Egyptian Air Force base in Cairo. Our home for the next three weeks”, informed the Indian Air Force on X, formerly Twitter.

The IAF contingent will take part in the biennial multilateral tri-service exercise at Cairo (West) Air Base, which started on Sunday and will culminate on September 16, the Ministry of Defence informed through a press release.

This will mark the first participation of the IAF in Ex BRIGHT STAR-23, which will also see the participation of air force contingents from the US, Saudi Arabia, Greece and Qatar.

The Indian Air Force contingent comprises 5 MiG-29s, 2 IL-78s, two C-130s 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 also be participating in the exercise. The IAF transport aircraft will provide airlift to approximately 150 personnel from the Indian Army.

The IAF’s participation is not just aimed at boosting global defence cooperation but practice planning and execution of joint operations. Besides fostering a stronger bonding of air warriors beyond borders, such exercises also provide a means to further strategic relations between participating nations, an MoD release stated earlier.IAF contingents participating in such exercises abroad are thus no less than Diplomats in Flight Suits, the release added.

India and Egypt have traditionally had an exceptional relationship and deep cooperation, with the two countries jointly undertaking the development of aero-engine and aircraft in the 1960s and the training of Egyptian pilots by their Indian counterparts.

The relationship between the two 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.