An 18 member Russian Air Force team arrived on Monday at the Air Force Station Halwara in Punjab to participate in Phase II of the Indo-Russian bilateral exercise ‘Avia-Indra.' A Western Air Command official said that the Russian delegation is headed by Major General Alexander N Lyapkin and consists of fighter, helicopter aircrew and Air Defence crew. The Russian team will be in India up to 28 November. The first Phase of this exercise was held at Russia for two weeks during August-September 2014.During the exercise, Russian aircrew would be flying the Su-30 MKI, Mi-17 & Mi-35 aircraft with the IAF, at Air Force Station Halwara. The joint exercise will further strengthen the relations between the two air forces taking forward the India - Russia strategic partnership. 17-iaf-chief-russian-air-force-chief Colonel Gen Viktor Nikolaevich Bondarev, Commander-in-Chief of Russian Federation Air Force (RFAF) called on Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha at Air Headquarters on Monday. According to IAF officials, the bilateral ties of India and Russia are a key pillar of Indian foreign policy, since the signing of the "Declaration on the India-Russian Strategic Partnership'' in 2000. In the next three days, Colonel General Nikolaevich will be visiting the National Defence Academy followed by a visit to the Su-30 Squadron. "The RFAF Chief is planned to visit the Air Force Academy at Hyderabad to get a firsthand account of the training being carried out on the PC-7 Simulator and the Virtual Tower Simulator," IAF officials said. Some of the major procurement contracts signed with Russia for the Indian Air Force in the last decade have been IJT Engines, MiG-29 Upgrades, Mi-17 V5 and Medium Lift Helicopters (MLH). Besides these, contracts for Joint Production of Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft and Multi Role Transport Aircraft have been signed.