LONDON, Oct. 13 (UPI) -- Britain's Royal Air Force is sending its best pilots and a squadron of its latest Eurofighter Typhoon jets into war games in India, shortly before the emerging economy decides whether to buy the Eurofighter or one of four rival planes.
The 17-day aerial war games, due to start next week in West Bengal, pit the Eurofighter jets against Sukhoi Su-30 multi-role combat jets of the Indian air force.
The last war games ended in a bitter "defeat" for Britain after it had sent its aging Tornado jets into air combat with the sleek and mobile Sukhoi models.
This time, it's going to be a much harder contest for the Russian-made jets. Twenty years younger than the Tornado, the Eurofighter, a twin-engine, canard-delta wing multirole aircraft, is a much more capable jet.
The Europeans might be especially motivated to show that their planes can perform.
Designed and built by a consortium of three European companies -- German-Spanish European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co., Finmeccanica from Italy and Britain's BAE Systems, the Eurofighter is one of six contenders for a $10 billion contract to outfit India's air force with 126 new multirole fighters. India is said to announce a winner soon.
Other planes placed in the bidding race are Boeing's F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Lockheed Martin's F-16 Fighting Falcon, the French-made Dassault Rafale, SAAB Gripen from Sweden and the Russian-produced Mikoyan MiG-35.
Those planes won't be able to shine in the bilateral war games, which will be held in an airborne warning and control systems environment, meaning that radar-mounted planes give friendly jets a visibility boost over incoming enemy fighters.
"We will be fielding different types of our fighters," such as the Dassault Mirage 2000, a French-made jet from the early 1980s, and the MiG 27, a Soviet-era fighter jet, an Indian military official told The Times of India.
Both nations will deploy mid-air refueling tankers such as the giant Ilyushin Il-78 on the Indian and the similarly large but older Vickers VC10 on the British side.
"The aim of the joint exercise is to learn from each other and enhance mutual operational understanding," the official told the newspaper. "With every exercise, (the Indian air force) has gained valuable experience and gained respect as a highly professional and motivated force."