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

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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’.

 

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

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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.

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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 Trolls China Through Tweets Over Patrolling in Indian Ocean Region

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                                             Chinese Naval Ships Patrolling in the Indian Ocean Region                                                         (Picture Courtesy: @IndianNavy/Twitter)

The Indian Navy on Tuesday conveyed a strong message to China in a very subtle and sarcastic way. The navy tweeted photographs of the Chines warships payrolling in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) during the time when The Indian Air Force (IAF) conducting the latest leg of the war-time exercise ‘Gagan Shakti 2018 with fighters jest like Sukhoi 30 MKI and Jaguar equipped with anti-warship weaponry flying over the region.

In its first tweet, the Indian Navy in a very sarcastic way said, “#MaritimeDomainAwareness @indiannavy extends a warm welcome to the 29th Anti-Piracy Escort Force (APEF) of PLA(N) in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). Happy Hunting.”

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Half an hour later in its second tweet the navy posted a map of the the Indian Ocean Region stating that 50 combat-ready Indian naval warships were carrying out continuous surveillance of the area.

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The 29th fleet from People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) left east China’s port city Zhoushan for the Gulf of Aden to escort civilian ships by carry out anti-piracy vigils off the Somali Coast. According to People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the fleet consists of 700 officers and soldiers, dozens of special operation soldiers, and two helicopters on board.

For the first time The Indian Navy has resorted to twitter to convey its message to China. The navy is keeping a close eye on the activities of Chinese Navy in the Indian Ocean Region especially after Doklam stand-off. China’s has increased its patrols in the IOR after the stand-off. In October 2017, The Naval Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba gave his approval for the deployment of mission-ready warships and aircrafts in the IOR to effectively counter China’s aggression. During Maldives crisis in February, Chinese warships were seeing patrolling in the region.

 

Fighter Jet Sukhoi Refuelled Mid-Air during Indian Air Force’s ‘Gagan Shakti’ Exercise

 

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Air to Air refuelling of Sukhoi 30 MKI during ‘Gagan Shakti 2018’ (Picture Courtesy : Twitter – @IAF_MCC)

The Indian Air Force (IAF) exhibited an extraordinary display of air-to-air refueling of a fighter jet during a two-week long ‘Gagan Shakti 2018’ exercise. A video showed pilots preparing to refuel Sukhoi-30 MKI jet.  According to a report published in NDTV, The Sukhoi Su-30 jet took off from Kalaikunda airbase in West Bengal’s Kharagpur. It returned to the base after engaging in multiple targets over the area of Lakshadweep. The jet was refuelled twice during the flight towards Lakshadweep and as well as return flight after completing the mission.

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Picture Courtesy : Twitter – @IAF_MCC

Air to air refuelling is the most difficult task to perform which requires exception skills. The receptacle probe has to be accurately inserted into the basket shaped drogue trailing behind the fuel tanker by the receiving aircraft. Accuracy is the key to execute this task.

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IL-78 Refueler aircraft of the Indian Air Force (Picture Courtesy: http://www.defenceupdate.in)

Air-to-air refuelling increases the combat capabilities of the fighter aircraft. The IAF has already started the process to procure six more flight refueler aircraft (FRA) in January 2018. Currently India has six IL-78 FRAs, but these are facing maintenance issues.

Around 1,100 aircrafts, including fighter jets, helicopters and transport have been mobilised by the Indian Air Force during the exercise. More than 4,000 sorties have been planned during ‘Gagan Shakti 2018’. IAF also conducted a mass casualty air evacuation drill in the northern sector. 88 casualties were airlifted from Leh and taken to Chandigarh. The C-17 Globe Master Aircraft was converted for this role by fixing support structures for the stretchers, in the main cabin, reported ANI