Highlights of ‘Gagan-Shakti 2018’; Indian Air Force conducted 11,000 sorties

Air to air fuelling during ‘Gagan-Shakti 2018’ (Picture Courtesy: Twitter/@IAF_MCC)

A total of 11,000 sorties were conducted by the Indian Air Force (IAF) during its biggest war-like exercise ‘Gagan-Shakti’. The two-week long exercise concluded on 22nd April. These number sorties are generally done in a month’s time. Out of these 11,000 sorties, 9,000 done by the fighter aircraft alone were conducted in the pan-India exercise.

The exercise was conducted in two phases. In the first Phase the IAF tested its capability along the western border with Pakistan, and in the second phase, the IAF exhibited its strength along the northern border with China from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh. The main Aim of the exercise was to test the real-time coordination, deployment and employment of Air Power in a short and intense battle scenario. The IAF exercised the entire machinery to validate its concept of operations and war-waging capability. Around 1,400

Some of the other highlights of ‘Gagan-Shakti 2018’ are:

  • During the exercise, Network Centric Operations were conducted with the focus to enhance situational awareness and to enable real-time data transfer between the weapon systems, satellite and ground-based systems.
  • Indigenous-built Light Combat Aircraft Tejas was put to the test. It carried out defence and Combat operations. 3)
  • Forward Surgical Centres (FSC) were set up at remote forward locations. FSC enhances medical capabilities and enables immediate life and limb-saving surgeries and stabilisation of patients away from service hospital.
  • Paratroopers of all the three wings of Defence forces were airdropped to targeted areas.
  • Special HeliBorne Operations (SHBO) mission was conducted by 2xMI-17 V5 helicopters of the IAF. Tri-Services Commandos were inserted in the objective area, to capture a Heli runway.
  • IAF fighter jets including Sukho-30 MKIs, Mirage 2000s, Hawks, Migs, and Jaguars conducted dusk-night-dawn operations. The IAF also tested its firepower by delivering ammunition with high precision.
  • Joint Maritime operations were performed in cooperation with the Indian Navy. Mass casualty drill was also undertaken to transfer injured troops to military hospitals.
  • The highlight of the exercise was the mid-air fueling, in which IL-78 demonstrated the importance of refuelling aircraft during any long-range missions, as it would ensure long-range strike capabilities for the Su-30 MKI.
  • The IAF also undertook a Battalion level airborne assault in the desert sector. It included a paradrop of 560 paratroopers of the IAF and the Indian Army, combat vehicles and GPS guided cargo platforms.
  • The IAF effectively exercised its Maritime warfighting concepts on both Western & Eastern seaboards. The primary focus in Phase–II was to address targets over Eastern Sea Board right up to Malacca Straits. Sukhoi -30MKI fighter jets equipped with BrahMoa missiles hit targets with precision in the Malacca Strait, the entry point where Chinese naval ships into the Indian Ocean Region.
  • A large number of Advanced Landing Grounds Operationalised for conducting Special Airborne Operations close to the simulated objective areas was undertaken.
  • The operation commandos of the IAF also executed Inter-Valley Troop Transfer (IVTT) along with the Indian Army. The IVTT was conducted in the high hills of North and North East along the Indo-Sino border. The aim was to validate the capability of the IAF and the Army to quickly transfer and redeploy acclimatised troops.
  • The Indian Air Force also tests readiness to deal with a biological, chemical and nuclear war and we were satisfied with our capability to deal with such situations during the exercise.

According to the Indian Air Force officials, the exercise met the parameters beyond expectations. The entire fleet strength of the force was showcased. China closely monitored the ‘Gagan-Shakti’.


India And Pakistan to Participate in Joint Military Exercise in Russia As Part of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

Picture Courtesy: http://www.indianexpress.com

India along with Pakistan will be participating in a multi-nation military exercise to be conducted in Russia in September this year. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday officially announced India’s participation. Chinese forces will also be part of this exercise.

The military exercise in Russia is part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). India, China, Russia and Pakistan and other SCO nations are attending the exercise. For the first time, India is attending the Defence Ministers’ meeting at SCO being hosted in China.

Indian and Pakistan soldiers have worked together in the past during the United Nations peacekeeping missions and that to while providing security or in convoy protection deployment. The exercise, “Peace Mission 2018” is scheduled to be held in Russia’s Ural Mountains. It will begin in August-end and conclude in the first week of September. It will be the first-ever exercise in which Indian and Pakistan militaries will be participating together to conduct the mock military operation to fight terrorists. ‘Peace Mission 2018’ will be the fifth edition of the biennial multilateral exercise by the SCO countries. According to sources, India will send a 200-strong contingent to Russia.

India and Pakistan became the full member of the SCO on June 9, 2017. Both the nations were admitted as observers in 2005 in the SCO, which started in 2001 in Shanghai by China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan. Now the Organisation has eight full members ,four nations have been accorded “observer” status, while six others are “dialogue” partners.

During her China visit Sitharaman said, “India enjoys excellent bilateral defence cooperation with a large number of SCO countries, especially with Russia, as well as with all of India’s Central Asian partners represented in the SCO.” The Defence Minister further added, “We are guided in our relations with China by the consensus reached between our leaders that at the time of global uncertainty, India-China relations could be a factor of stability and that we must not allow our differences to become disputes.”


Government Mulling Over Granting Permanent Commission to Women Army Officers; Still ‘No’ for Combat Role

Representational Image (Picture Courtesy: http://www.indiastrategic.in)

The Centre is mulling over granting permanent commission (PC) to short service commission (SSC) women army officers. The government conveyed this to Supreme Court on Monday. This move could bring an end to an eight-year old battle in the apex court. The Indian Air Force and The Indian Navy have already granted permanent commission to women officers. The court questions the centre for not granting permanent commission to women army officers. The apex court also directed the government to file an affidavit with concrete policy on the PCs within two weeks.

Additional solicitor general (ASG) Maninder Singh told a bench led by Justice NV Ramana that Union Defence Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, held meetings with the three chiefs of armed forces last week and the government was in favour of granting PCs to women officers in the army. The ASG said, “Deliberations happened with all earnest. They are considering expanding PC, wherever it is possible. Modalities, however, need to be worked out and a decision needs to be taken as to in which areas it (PC) can be given,” Singh further added that the women officers who left the job before 2008 would not b taken back and no PC would be given to women officers in the combat division because no SSC is offered in this stream, report Hindustan Times.

The government had taken a u-turn from its earlier stance, where it appealed in the apex court challenging the Delhi High Court’s order to give women army officers on SSC a permanent commission in March 2010. Before the HC judgment, women officers even after serving for 14 years had no scope of getting permanent commission whereas male officers get PC only after five years of service.

The government was pulled by Justice Ramana’s bench on April 13 for harassing SSC women officers for opposing their plea for PC. Even on Monday, the apex court described the Centre’s stand as “wishy-washy.” According to the report published in Hindustan Times, the judge also questioned the hesitation on Centre’s part to give PC to women in combat roles. In 2015, then defence minister Manohar Parrikar told Parliament that the armed forces had given PC to 340 women officers.

Gagan Shakti 2018: Sukhoi 30-MKI Equipped With Brahmos Missile Hit Targets Over Malacca Strait on Concluding Day

Sukhoi 30-MKI (Picture Courtesy: http://www.sputniknews.com)

After carrying out extensive war drills along the borders with China, the Indian Air Force (IAF) had also carried out war-like operations on the locations from where the Chinese can gain entry into the Indian waters. During the second phase of the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) mega war-exercise, Gagan Shakti-2018, Sukhoi-30 MKIs equipped with BrahMos missiles carried out strikes in the Malacca Strait. Malacca strait is the entry point Chinese naval ships has entered the Indian Ocean region.

The aircraft also carried out a sortie of over 2,000 kilometers where they were provided mid-air refuelling by Ilyushin 78 tankers and direction by the Airborne Early Warning Systems (AWACS), India Today reported citing sources. The Sukhoi -30 MKI launched BrahMos missiles. This showcased the capability of the aircraft to destroy enemy’s fighter jets from a distance of 300 km.

The Gagan Shakti 2018 which concluded yesterday was the biggest war-exercise carried out by the IAF. The two-week long exercise was conducted in two phases along the borders with Pakistan and China. In the first phase, its western command and south-western air command showcased the capability to counter enemy’s aggression on the western front, while in the second phase, the formations focused on the Chinese frontiers.

IAF is conducting Advance Landing Ground (ALG) Operations in North East Sector as part of Gagan Shakti 2018                                                                                                                                              (Picture Courtesy: Arunachal24.in)
Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman addressing media (Picture Courtesy: Twitter/@IAF_MCC)

Entire fleet strength of the Indian Air Force took part in the exercise. Sorties were carried out across the entire country. Mid-air refueling, evacuation of war causalities from border to military hospitals, Advance Landing Ground Operations are performed during the exercise. IAF paratroopers also exhibited their skills in countering any emergency situation. The main aim of this exercise was to check the war preparedness of the force. Joint maritime operations were also conducted by the IAF in coordination with the Indian Army and the Indian Navy. Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa also reviewed the exercise. Around 1,100 IAF aircrafts participated in the exercise. According to reports, 15,000 airmen and 300 officers were also part of the Gagan Shakti 2008.

This exercise has surely given a strong message to the rival nations and hs enhanced the morale of the forces.


Ministry of Defence Planning to Acquire License-Build AK-103 From Russia

Picture Courtesy : Wikipedia Commons

India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) plans to start licensed production of AK (Avtomat Kalashnikova )-103, 7.62x51mm assault rifles in India. The MoD and Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) officials are likely to begin talks with Russian officials for licensed production of Ak-103. This will help in fulfilling the requirement of the Indian Army. The army requires over 7,68,000 assault rifles for the soldiers.

Just like Ak-47, The AK-103 rifle is also extremely easy to maintain and use. The production started in 1994 at Kalashnikov Rifle Works at Izhevsk in Russia. The AK-103 can be fitted with a variety of sights, including night vision and telescopic sights. In additional to this it has an option of attaching a knife-bayonet or a grenade launcher. It uses plastic components where possible instead of wood or metal. This make rifle light to use.

The rifle can fire 600 rounds-per-minute and its range is 500 metres. The muzzle velocity of the AK-103 is 750 metres/second. Ak-103 is the modern version of AK-43. It can mount 40-mm under-barrel grenade launchers. The empty rifles weigh around 3.40 kg and with loaded magazine it weighs 4.10 Kg. The AK-103 can be fired even with butt stock folded. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman discussed the proposal to acquire AK-103 rifles with Russian officials during her Moscow visit this month. Indian Navy’s MARCOS Commandoes are already using AK-103 rifle.

India to Supply For Mi-35 Chopper to Afghanistan to Fight Pakistan-based Taliban

MI-35 Helicopter (Picture Courtesy: Wikipedia Commons) 

India will be supplying four Mi-35 attack helicopters to Afghanistan to fight against the Pakistan-backed Taliban. India has decided to help the war-torn nation to carry out its operations against Taliban by enhancing its military capabilities, reported The Statesman, citing Afghan diplomatic sources. India is expected to directly purchase these Russian-made helicopters from Belarus. It would have taken a long time to procure the choppers if it were to place an order for their supplies.

Afghanistan, Belarus and India inked a trilateral pact for the refurbished Mi-24 helicopters in March, Afghan ambassador Shaida Abdali said in an interview to Hindustan Times. India had supplied four Mi-35 attack helicopters to Afghanistan in 2015-16 for strengthening the Afghan forces.

According to sources, the decision to supply four more four more helicopters to Afghanistan was taken after the US and other key Western powers pushed India to play a pro-active role in bringing stability in Afghanistan. Around 1,000 Afghan soldiers are already getting trained in Indian Defence institutions.

Afghanistan forces are mostly using Russian weapons. As Indian is also using Russian weapons, so United States has requested India to assist Afghanistan Air Force in combating terrorism. India and Afghanistan also propose to hold the next meeting of the strategic council between them in Kabul to consider ways to enhance the fighting ability of the Afghan forces, reported The Statesman. The last meeting was held in New Delhi last year. The US also has started implementing its four-year defence plan in Afghanistan as a result of this the strength of the Afghan Air Force (AAF) will be increased three-fold.

The air corridor established last year between India and Afghanistan to avoid the problems being created by Pakistan for trade between has helped the two nations in increasing trade and commercial links, whereas trade between Afghanistan and Pakistan has decreased considerably.


After Indian Army Cuts Down Purchase of Expensive Weapons; Road Construction Along China Border Also in Soup

Picture Courtesy : Asian Age

The Indian Army listed out expensive weapons to cut down their purchase to compensate the shortage of ammunition, the infrastructure development is also stalled due to the shortage of funds. In the bi-annual Army Commanders’ Conference, this issue leading to delay in strategic road projects was discussed at length.

According to the officials, the Border Roads Organisation is facing the shortage of funds which is leading to delays in the construction of strategic roads along the China border. Due to financial crisis, the funds allocated for General Staff (GS) roads are being diverted for the India-China Border Roads (ICBRs). Around 200 GS roads would be affected with this decision. GS roads ensure inter-valley and inter-sector movement of troops and equipment along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China. On the other hand, the ICBRs are meant for larger mobilisation efforts.
The inadequate budget for the strategic roads and infrastructure development along the northern borders has also been highlighted by the Indian Army’s Vice Chief Lt Gen Sarath Chand, who informed the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence that the allocation for these tasks is falling short by about Rs 902 crore, reported The Economics Times.

The BRO gave an update to army commanders at the ongoing conference about the construction of roads along the northern border.  An official told The Economic Times, “Only 60 per cent of demands for funds for all roads under the BRO are being met. This is not enough. Due to the shortage, all road projects, including of the 61 ICBRs and GS roads, be delayed and cannot be completed on time.”

There are 73 planned ICBRs whose construction began in 1999. The BRO has been tasked to construct 61 of them, out of which 28 have been completed and the remaining 33 are expected to be completed by 2022.

In 1999, 73 ICRCB’s were planned to be constructed. The BRO has been given a task to construct 61 roads out of 73. Till now 23 have been completed and the remaining 33 would be completed by 2022. Standing Committee on Defence has also raised mater in the parliament.

Indian Army to Cut Down Purchase of Expensive Weapons Due to Shortage of Funds

(Picture Courtesy: IMA/File)

The Indian Army has listed out ammunition and spares of vintage weapons which it cannot buy due to the shortage of funds. According to media reports, the existing stock of ammunition is not enough to last for even 10 days. It is mandatory for the army to have ammunition to carry out at least 40 days of war.

The Indian Army has decided to compensate 15-20% shortage by cutting down the purchase of expensive weapon systems. The list includes weapon systems like smerch rockets, 9M113 Konkurs, the Anti Tank Guided Missile system, T-90 battle tank and specialised mines used in battlefields. These weapons are crucial for intense war situation.

With this move, the force will be able to save between Rs 600 crore and Rs 800 crore over the next three financial years, reported India Today. Recently, a Parliamentary committee has also raised this issue to the Ministry of Defence to ensure so that the army can meet the requirements of highest level of operational readiness.

Indian Army’s T-90 Tank
BM-30 Smerch

In the union budget for the financial year 2018-19, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley allocated Rs 2,95,511.41 crore for defence.  The defence budget is hiked by 7.81 % by the previous year’s budget.  Out of the total outlay for defence only Rs 99,563.41 is allocated for capital expenditure which includes modernisation expenditure for the forces, whereas Rs 1,95,947.55 for revenue expenditure.

In addition to the defence budget Rs 1,08,853.30 is allocated for defence pensions.

This year’s defence budget is only 1.58% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is lower than last year’s allocation in terms of percentage. After the war against China in 1962 this is the lowest allocation to defence forces.

Despite the recommendation of defence panel that the defence budget for the financial year 2018 should be around 2.5% of the GDP to reduce the shortages of equipment and technology in our defence forces.

Last year, the Deputy Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Sarath Chand had also termed, 65% of arms with India to be in ‘vintage category’, reported The Financial Express. The Indian Army chief, General Bipin Rawat had also expressed the need of more allocation of budget for the armed forces.




Indian Air Force Conducts Advance Landing Ground Operations During ‘Gagan Shakti 2018’

IAF is conducting Advance Landing Ground (ALG) Operations in North East Sector as part of Gagan Shakti 2018                                                                                                                                              (Picture Courtesy: Arunachal24.in)

The Indian Air Force (IAF) deployed Advanced Landing Grounds (ALGs) in several areas in North East sector as part of the ongoing Gagan Shakti 2018 exercise. ALGs are unprepared airstrips which are usually placed at a short notice in far flung areas having challenging terrain with limited rail and road connectivity.

As India has many border areas which have limited connectivity, so the need for ALGs is critical. ALGs can transform the area into forward strike bases for the IAF if and when required. The IAF conducted Inter Valley Troop Transfers (IVTT), Special Heliborne Operations, Air Landed Operations and Special Operations by operationalising and utilising several ALGs.

IVTT Operations were carried out in Uttar Bharat Hills and at the Tezu-Walong in the north-east sector. Sukhoi 30-MKI fighter jets are also operating from almost every ALGs in the north-east sector.

Unpredictable weather, tough terrain, narrow corridor of approach and short runway lengths makes operation exteremely tough for pilots. The IAF appreciated the precision and efficiency of its personnel. According to the Ibdin Air Force, such type of precision and professionalism is important in determining the success of tactical operations.

As a part of Gagan Shakti 2018, defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman along with Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa inspected Air to Ground armament fired by Sukhoi 30-MKI and Mi-17 at DM Range, Assam. The exercise reflected IAF’s all-weather bombing capabilities and pin point precision. The Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and the Air Chief Marshal also reviewed the taking off of Su-30 aircraft from Pasighat ALG amidst the challenging terrain of Arunachal Pradesh.  Sitharaman also addressed media in Chabua, Assam.

Defence Minister along with Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa addresses media in Chabua, Assam (Picture Courtesy: Twitter/@DefMinIndia)

Gagan Shakti is the biggest military exercise in decades undertaken by  the IAF  to showcase its  dominance over the entire extended area of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and the biggest ever war combat game exercise on the Pakistan and China border.


Indian Navy to Get Four Advance Warships From Russia

Indian Navy to get four Krivak Class Frigates from Russia (Picture Courtesy: Youtube.com)

India has moved closer to finalise a deal of four advanced warships for the Indian Navy with Russia. The price for two of the naval vessels which are to be bought directly from Russia has been finalized at $1.1 billion, while the price negotiations for the remaining two warships to be manufactured at Goa Shipyard under ‘Make in India’ model is under progress. The Defence Ministry is pushing hard to close the deal at the earliest.

The four state-of-art warships to be inducted by the Indian Navy will enhance its blue water capabilities as these naval vessels will be equipped with the Brahmos supersonic cruise missiles. After negotiatons during defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s Russia visit, Russian material is to be supplied to the Goa Shipyards at around USD 200 million. The Indian negotiators will also get 18 per cent discount in the contract. The first two frigates will be built in Yantar Shipyard, in Kaliningrad, Russia, while the remaining two will be built in Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL).

A Russian team had come for price negotiations during the DefExpo 2018 held in Chennai. The discussions are still in progress. The defence minister visited Russia earlier this month to discuss multiple military programmes.

The Indian Navy is to operate 10 Krivak III class frigates. Six warships of Krivak class are already in operation. The first three warships were inducted between June 2003 and April 2004, while the next group of three warships was commissioned between April 2012 and June 2013. India is expecting to finalise the price by the next couple of months.