The ongoing nationwide mega-combat exercise of the Indian Air Force (IAF) began in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi district today to examine the strategic preparedness of its infrastructure in the area. Though IAF officials maintained a distance from the media, sources said the exercise — ‘Gagan Shakti’ — began around 6.30 am at Chinyalisaur town, 230km from the Indo-China border. The first An-32 transport aircraft carrying IAF personnel landed at the Chinyalisaur airstrip around 7.15 am. The aircraft made a second landing at the airstrip at 7.45 am and a third at 8.01 am, the sources said.
The exercise would continue in Chinyalisaur till Sunday, it added. ‘Gagan Shakti’ is said to be the IAF’s biggest such exercise in decades, to check its operational preparedness with a focus on dealing with all possible security challenges, including from China and Pakistan.
The two-week drill started on April 8 and would continue until the 22nd of this month, officials had said. Last Saturday, the IAF conducted a maritime air operation in the western seaboard to check its deep strike capability in the Indian Ocean Region and beyond.