Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Pakistan, US & Saudi Arabia Conduct Joint Air Exercise ‘Aces Meet’ At Undisclosed Location

Pakistan has begun a multinational air exercise “Aces Meet 2021-1” with the US and Saudi Arabia at an undisclosed air base in the country.

Along with the flying contingents from the US and Saudi Arabia, the Air Forces of Jordan, Bahrain, and Egypt have been invited as observers. On March 27, a Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) Tornado IDS aircraft arrived at Pakistan Air Force (PAF) base Mushaf in Sargodha to take part in the exercise.

However, it is unclear if the event will be held at the same airbase or any other location.

The opening ceremony was addressed by the Deputy Chief of Air Staff (Operations) Air Vice Marshal Waqas Ahmed Sulehri on March 29. He said that the international exercises were not new but the particular cycle of ‘ACES Meet’ was unique due to the vast experience of the participants in counterterrorism and composite flying domains.

Of late, the Pakistani military has conducted many war games including “Aman-2021” biennial naval exercises which saw the participation of more than 40 countries including the US, Russia, China, and Turkey in February.

The exercise was seen as a counter to India’s Malabar-2020 organized by the Indian Navy last year, whose flotilla included the aircraft carriers INS Vikramaditya and the USS Nimitz.

However, it seems Washington is keen on playing ‘both sides’. The US Navy also took part in a PASSEX involving Indian Air Force Su-30MKIs and Indian Navy’s Shivalik-class frigate along with the American battle group.

In addition, both India and the United States were participants in Desert Flag VI, an annual multi-national large force employment warfare exercise hosted by the United Arab Emirates Air Force at the famous Al-Dhafra airbase.

Exercises in Pakistan also made headlines earlier this month when it was speculated that it could also invite contingent from arch-rival India, in an SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) military exercise to be held in the country later this year. However, the rumors settled when both Indian and Pakistani officials clarified that no such invitation to the Indian Army is currently being considered.

Interestingly, officials from the Indian and Pakistani Armies recently held a brigade commander-level talk at one of the sectors along the disputed Line of Control. The meeting was aimed at taking forward the new consensus reached to abide by the 2003 ceasefire agreement last month.

“After the DGMO understanding, a brigade commander-level flag meeting was held between Indian and Pakistan Army at Poonch Rawalkot Crossing Point on Mar 26 to discuss implementation mechanism as per the understanding,” the Indian Army said.

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