IAF's Gagan Shakti training exercise underway across all bases in country; light combat aircraft Tejas makes debut

Through a two-week long training exercise involving its entire fleet strength across all its bases in the country, the Indian Air Force's (IAF) Gagan Shakti 2018 event aims to exhibit its might and combat preparedness, according to reports.

An IAF Sukhoi SU-30 aircraft. Image courtesy PIB

Representational image. PIB

Light combat aircraft Tejas, which had until now been only a technology demonstrator and was recently inducted into the IAF, participated for the first time in enhancing its operational capability, firing close combat and beyond visual range missiles, The Times of India reported. The IAF, which accepted Tejas Mark 1 into its fold, now waits for the improved Tejas Mark 1A and subsequently Tejas Mark II.

Air support, network-centric warfare, attack, counter attack and other parts of air force warfare in joint coordination is giving shape to the exercise, the report added. Maximum focus is to expertise on air to air counter attack and air to ground attack, it quoted officials as saying.

The Economic Times reported that "over 300 officers and 15,000 air warriors" are participating in the exercise, which also has the interoperability operations involving the Indian Army and the Indian Navy.

This exercise of the IAF is also being conducted to give a significant boost to the Make In India program, and will be a landmark for the indigenous aircraft development project, the report said.

In an interview with The Indian Express, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa said that "full credit goes to our engineers that we have built up the serviceability of fighter aircraft to 80 percent, compared to a target of 75 percent, and a dispatch reliability of more than 95 percent during Gagan Shakti exercise".

These numbers were significant as they demonstrated IAF’s capability to "overwhelm the Pakistan Air Force by bringing double their number of fighter aircraft in combat, and that too with significantly higher throw weight", the report quoted senior IAF officials as saying.


Updated Date: Apr 17, 2018 07:32 AM

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