Srinagar, Apr 6: The Indian Air Force (IAF) is going to conduct its biggest ever combat exercise along Pakistan and China borders.
The exercise- Gagan Shakti, 2018- will be taking place between April 10 to 23. Depending upon the order of the Air Force Chief, the Air Force will mobilise its assets in the war scenario within 48 hours of the orders.
Meanwhile, the IAF is readying to mobilise its entire asset and equipment inventory to conduct its biggest exercise ever.
IAF will mobilise more than 1100 combat, transport and rotary wing (helicopter) aircraft in order to practice the real time scenario, to be conducted day and night, of Combat with the enemy encompassing along Pakistan border in the Western areas and along China border in the Northern areas.
For the first time, the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft Tejas will be taking part in the exercise and will perform both the offensive and defensive roles. Navy’s Maritime Combat Aircraft MiG 29s will also take part.
As per the protocol, Pakistan has been informed. The scale of the exercise can be gauged from the fact that just from Air Force more than 300 officers and more than 15,000 airmen have been mobilised. Joint operations scenario with the Army and the Navy are part of this exercise.
The pan India synergised exercise will showcase the multi spectrum capabilities, both offensive and defensive. The IAF will conduct all terrain operations- desert, high altitude, maritime scenarios and special operations- in the real time.
Mobility and resilience of air combat operations will be visible from the fact that Aircraft from Bhuj in Gujarat will fly towards Assam and conduct bombing and simultaneously aircraft from Assam will fly towards deserts of Rajasthan and will do bombing. Also, inter valley transfer of troops and equipments will be performed.
A senior IAF officer on the condition of anonymity said, “The exercise will cover from the heights of 20,000 ft to the extreme hot areas of the desert and also the maritime scenarios. We will be utilising all the Air Force firing ranges. The IAF will be conducting landing at Advanced Landing Grounds, Improvised Airstrips and helipads.”
During the exercise, 1100 aircraft will be flying three-four sorties in a day with the cumulative sorties reaching to the count of 3300 to 4400 in a day.
In order to maintain optimum turn around, keeping the aircraft Combat ready; Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) will be placing their technicians at the maintenance bases. Apart from the Defence assets there is participation of the railways and civil aviation manpower and machinery.