As part of its biggest combat exercise in three decades, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is carrying out massive drills involving its frontline fighter jets to test its capability to dominate the entire extended area of the Indian Ocean Region. IAF’s Sukhoi and Jaguar fighter aircraft, equipped with the potent Brahmos and Harpoon anti ship missiles, showcased their strategic reach and capability to carry out any sort of operations over the area as part of the pan-India exercise “GaganShakti”.
The IAF said it is effectively exercising its maritime war fighting concepts on both the Western and Eastern seaboards, adding the drill is also aimed at containing any “misadventure” by any adversary in India’s area of interest in the Indian Ocean Region. The Chinese Navy has been trying to expand its influence in critical sea lanes around India.
“Air Dominance over the entire extended area of the Indian Ocean Region in support of the Indian Navy is being demonstrated by employment of combat enablers like the FRA (Flight Refueling Aircraft) in conjunction with our maritime fighter forces of the Su-30 and Jaguar class jets carrying potent long distance anti shipping weaponry,” it said.
The ‘Gaganshakti exercise, which began on April 8, is IAF’s biggest combat exercises in the last three decades. The exercise is being carried out to check IAF’s operational preparedness with a focus on dealing with any possible security challenges from China and Pakistan. “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 respectively,” the IAF said.
It said the Su-30 aircraft have also showcased its strategic reach by operating from the eastern most air bases on the peninsula and engaging maritime targets well out into the western seaboard. It said the focus has now shifted to addressing targets over the eastern sea board right upto the Mallaca Straits.
“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 support the Indian Navy in order to dominate the Indian Ocean Region,” the IAF said. Almost the entire assets of the IAF including its fighter squadrons have been part of the two-week long ‘Gaganshakti’ exercise.