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  1. Gaganshakti 2018: IAF’s biggest combat exercise in 3 decades sends big signal to Pakistan, China

Gaganshakti 2018: IAF’s biggest combat exercise in 3 decades sends big signal to Pakistan, China

The Gaganshakti 2018 aims to validate the IAF's war preparedness and strength for a two-front war with China and Pakistan. The exercise is conducting all terrain operations and by synergizing inputs from all three services.

By: | New Delhi | Published: April 18, 2018 3:47 PM
A Parachute Brigade undertakes a Battalion level airborne assault from C-130 & AN-32 aircraft as a part of Gaganshakti 2018 exercise. (Source: IAF Twitter)

Gaganshakti 2018: Over 1100 aircraft, which includes fighter jets, transport aircraft, reconnaissance aircraft and helicopters etc are participating in the countrywide all-encompassing largest combat ready exercise, Gaganshakti 2018. The largest ever combat exercise by the IAF started on April 8th and will go on till April 22nd. The main agenda of the exercise is to exhibit the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) might and war preparedness. It was reported that the exercise will remain two-phase and has remained to be two-phase so far. The first phase was in the western sector along the borders of Pakistan. Now, the exercise is being carried out in the Eastern sector. Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa said that it took the IAF less than 48 hours to move from the Western sector to the Eastern sector.

Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa also credited the success of the ongoing exercise to the engineers. Speaking to the IE, he told that it was engineers that built up the serviceability of fighter aircraft to 80 percent. He also said that Pakistan’s military was closely monitoring the exercise and that it was surprised by the scale and implementation of such a combat-ready exercise. He also suggested the Indian Air Force was really shaking the heavens by conducting the largest airborne war-ready exercise.

15,000 personnel have been shifted from their regular training roles to wartime roles. Along with this, the IAF is carrying out over 5000 sorties and has been dropping a lot of firepower as a part of the exercise. Around 550 fighter jets have participated in the Gaganshakti exercise. Apart from seeing the participation from Sukhoi-30, Jaguar, Hawk, Mirage, Mig-21, and Mig-27, the exercise also witnessed participation from Tejas in the combat-ready exercise for the first time. Tejas, a recently inducted Light Combat Aircraft also participated for the first time in the showcasing its operational capability and engaged in close combat firing. The Gaganshakti 2018 also saw the participation of big transport aircraft such as C-130 Super Hercules, Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, Mi-35 fighter copter, Mi 17V copter and HAL’s Dhruv.

Watch: Glimpses of Airborne Assault mission involving combination airdrop of a ‘CombatRubberisedRaidingCraft & Combat ready Commandos by night. 

The Gaganshakti 2018 aims to validate the IAF’s war preparedness and strength for a two-front war with China and Pakistan. Though the Indian Air Force did not specifically comment on the two-front war aspect, it did say that the IAF was carrying out surge operations from heights of 20,000 ft to desert areas which are extremely hot. It also said that though Gaganshakti is an aerial exercise, it would involve inputs from both Indian Navy and the Indian Army. The exercise seeks to conducting all terrain operations and by synergizing inputs from all three services. Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa told the media that the IAF was carrying out deep strikes, long-range maritime strikes to create an air defense mechanism. By carrying out Gaganshakti 2018, the IAF is practicing every maneuverable tactic to face a short and intense war.

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