The Indian Air Force’s (IAF) two-week long exercise ‘Gagan Shakti’ begins today. It is one of the biggest combat exercises to be conducted by the air force. The main aim of this exercise is to test the real time coordination and deployment of the air force in a short and war like situation. The exercise will be conducted in two separate phases along the western border with Pakistan and along the Northern Border with China. As part of a protocol Pakistan has been informed about the exercise.
The extent of this exercise can be gauged from the fact that round 300 officers and 15,000 airmen will take part in this exercise. The exercise will also see an involvement of 1100 fighter jets, so around 3,000 to 4,000 sorties can be conducted daily. The Indian Air Force will mobilise its equipment within 48 hours of the order of the Air Chief Marshal to test its capability in a war like situation.
Indigenous Light Combat Aircraft Tejas will also be tested in the ‘Gagan Shakti’. It will be used for both offensive and defensive roles. Joint Maritime operations will be conducted by The Indian Air Force in coordination with The Indian Army and the Indian Navy. The IAF said, “While it is an IAF centric exercise, it is planned to be executed keeping in mind the ‘Joint Operational Doctrine’. The requirements of the other services are being met and the same has been factored while planning the exercise settings.” Hindustan Aeronautical Limited (HAL) will depute its best 300 technicians for this exercise.
The IAF will conduct all terrain operations. Mobility and strength of air force will be put under test. Apart from wartime drills, IAF will also practice and validate various Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief drills that the IAF is expected to undertake from time to time. In a statement IAF said, ”Some such measure would involve mobilization of Air Ambulance version of transport aircraft and helicopters to airlift simulated sitting and bedridden casualties to metros/big cities having good medical facilities and would include evacuation of casualties from highways that facilitate such operations.”