The Sukhoi Su-30MKI is the most potent fighter jet in service with the Indian Air Force in the late 2000s. The MKIs are often fielded by the IAF in bilateral and multilateral air exercises. India exercised its Su-30MKIs against the Royal Air Force's Tornado ADVs in October 2006. This was the first large-scale bilateral aerial exercise with any foreign air force during which the IAF used its Su-30MKIs extensively. This exercise was also the first in 43 years with the RAF. During the exercise, the RAF Air Chief Marshal Glenn Torpy was given permission by the IAF to fly the MKI. RAF's Air-Vice Marshall, Christopher Harper, praised the MKI's dogfight ability, calling it "absolutely masterful in dogfights".
In July 2007, the Indian Air Force fielded the MKI during the Indra-Dhanush exercise with Royal Air Force's Eurofighter Typhoon. This was the first time that the two jets had taken part in such an exercise. The IAF did not allow their pilots to use the radar of the MKIs during the exercise so as to protect the highly classified N011M Bars. Also in the exercise were RAF Tornado F3s and a Hawk. RAF Tornado pilots were candid in their admission of the Su-30MKI's superior manoeuvring in the air, and the IAF pilots were impressed by the Typhoon's agility.
India sent Su-30MKs, an earlier variant of the Su-30MKI, to take part in war games with the United States Air Force (USAF) during Cope India 04 in 2004. The results have been widely publicised, with the Indians winning "90% of the mock combat missions" against the USAF's F-15C. The parameters of the exercise favored the IAF, however. In Cope India 05, the Su-30MKIs reportedly beat the USAF's F-16s.
In July 2008, the IAF sent 6 Su-30MKIs and 2 Il-78MKI aerial-refueling tankers, to participate in the Red Flag exercise. The IAF again did not allow their pilots to use the radar of the MKIs during the exercise so as to protect the highly classified N011M Bars. In October 2008, a video surfaced on the internet which featured a USAF colonel, Terrence Fornof, criticising Su-30MKI's performance against the F-15C, engine serviceability issues, and high friendly kill rate during the Red Flag exercise. Several of his claims were later rebutted by the Indian side and the USAF also distanced itself from his remarks.
In June 2010, India and France began the fourth round of their joint air exercises, "Garuda", at the Istres Air Base in France. During Garuda, the IAF and the French Air Force were engaged in various missions ranging from close combat engagement of large forces, slow mover protection, protecting and engaging high value aerial assets. This exercise marked the first time the Su-30MKI took part in a military exercise in France.
The Indian Air Force first took part in the US Air Force's Red Flag exercise in 2008. Participating in Red Flag costs the IAF ? 100 crore (US$17.5 million) each time. To reduce costs, the IAF decided to take part once every five years. The IAF is taking part in the Red Flag exercise in July 2013, at Nellis US Air Force Base, Nevada, US. For the exercise, it is dispatching 8 Su-30MKIs, 2 C-130J tactical aircraft, 2 IL-78 mid-air refueling tankers, 1 IL-76 heavy-lift aircraft, and over 150 personnel.
The IAF again fielded its MKIs in the Garuda-V exercise with France in June 2014, where they manoeuvred in mixed groups with other IAF aircraft and French Rafales.
On 21 July 2015, India and UK began the bilateral exercise named Indradhanush with aircraft operating from three Royal Air Force bases. The dogfighting saw various encounters Within Visual Range (WVR) combat. Large engagements saw 4 v 4 engagements at beyond visual range and graduated to a massive 8 v 8 engagement. According to Indian television network NDTV, the IAF Su-30s performed extremely well and defeated the RAF Typhoons by a score of 12-0. These claims were later ridiculed by a RAF official, describing the report as "comical".