The Indian Air Force (IAF) carried out a mega exercise at Pokhran area of Rajasthan, barely 230 km from India-Pakistan border.
Though the exercise—Vayu Shakti 2019—was a planned event, it gained significance as the military is exploring options to retaliate the killing of CRPF troopers by a Pakistan-based terrorist on Thursday.
Interestingly, the exercise came two days after the Pakistani terrorist killed 49 CRPF personnel on Jammu-Srinagar Highway.
The exercise was conducted in three phases during the day, dusk and night.
At the exercise, Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa said that the IAF is always ready to give an appropriate response as assigned by the political leadership.
“While wars are fought few and far between, we have an ever present sub-conventional threat as the enemy knows he cannot defeat us in a conventional conflict. So, today, we show our ability to punish, our ability to insert and extricate troops from hostile territories,” the Air Force chief said.
Almost all variants of its fighter jets and attack helicopters took part in the exercise near the border with Pakistan.
Army Chief General Bipin Rawat, including Cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar, who is an honorary group captain of the force, were also present during the exercise.
On Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced that security forces have been given full freedom to retaliate the attack.
The Vayu Shakti exercise, the IAF showcaused fire power capability of indigenously developed platforms like Light Combat Aircraft (LAC) Tejas, Advanced Light Combat Helicopter (ALH) and has checked the efficiency of the Akash surface to air missile and Astra air to air missile. Jets, LWC, LAC hit targets during day and night.
It was for the first time while ALH and Akash were deployed in a military exercise.
In Saturday’s exercise, the IAF also deployed upgraded version of MIG-29 fighter jet in an air to ground role during exercise. A total of 137 aircraft including SU-30’s, Mirage 2000s, Jaguars, Mig-21 Bison, Mig-27, Mig-29, Hercules, AN-32 aircraft participated.