New Delhi, April 17 (IANS) As part of its largest war preparedness exercise in three decades, the Indian Air Force (IAF) in a massive show of strength demonstrated its air dominance over the entire extended area of the Indian Ocean in support of the Indian Navy on Tuesday.
Some 1,100 combat and transport fixed wing aircraft and helicopters are taking part in the April 10-23 exercise by 300 officers and 1,500 airmen for all terrain operations — desert, high altitude, maritime scenarios and special operations.
The initial focus of the exercise was along the western border with Pakistan and has now shifted to the eastern corridor – around the China border in the north-eastern states.
During both phases of Gagan Shakti, the IAF effectively exercised its maritime war fighting concepts on both the Western and Eastern seaboards, an IAF spokesperson said.
“Air Dominance, over the entire extended area of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) in support of the Indian Navy is being demonstrated by employment of combat enablers like the FRA (flight refuelling aircraft) in conjunction with our maritime fighter forces of the Su-30 and Jaguar class carrying potent long distance anti shipping weaponry.”
The spokespersons said that missions have been flown in the initial phase to address both near and in depth targets over the western sea board utilising Su-30 and Jaguar fighter aircraft equipped with the potent Brahmos and Harpoon anti-ship missiles.
The Su-30 aircraft also showcased its strategic reach by operating from the easternmost air bases on the peninsula and engaging maritime targets well out into the western seaboard.
After quick repositioning of maritime assets, the focus has now shifted in Phase-II to addressing targets over the eastern sea board right up to the Malacca Straits.
“The full compliment of maritime assets would now operate from bases in the southern peninsula and Andaman and Nicobar islands. Extensive missions would be flown by the Su-30 and Jaguar in conjunction with the Indian Navy’s P-8i MR aircraft using long range weapons to refine and practice offensive and defensive tactics against maritime targets.”
The spokesperson said that such demonstrations of extended reach utilising potent standoff weapons in joint coordinated operations with the Indian Navy has adequately showcased the IAF’s ability to dominate the Indian Ocean and “effectively address any misadventure by an adversary in our area of interest”.