NEW DELHI - In a massive show of strength - one not seen in over three decades, the Indian Air Force is conducting 'Gagan Shakti 2018' training exercise with focus on key areas like aerial combat, air to surface combat, paratrooper assault and medical evacuation.
The IAF 's exercise began on April 10 and will take place till April 23. It is the biggest ever-exercise of its kind undertaken by the IAF with 1,100 combat, transport and rotary wing (helicopter) aircraft participating - apart from 300 officers and 1500 airmen.
A long list of training operations have been scheduled with joint operations with the Indian Army and Navy also scheduled.
The primary focus of the exercise has been all along the western border with Pakistan in what has seen a series of day and night operations being conducted. Now, the focus shifts to the eastern corridor - around the China border in the north-eastern states.
Gagan Shakti 2018 focuses on operations from sub-zero temperatures to scorching deserts and even matitime operations. The exercises conducted so far include:
1.) Network Centric Operations
2.) Air defence and live strike missions by indigenous fighter LCA (Tejas)
3.) Forward Surgical Centre to showcase medical capabilities
4.) SITE Operations
5.) LCA's night-time operation training
6.) Special HeliBorne Operations
7.) SU-30's Dusk-Night-Dawn Operation
8.) Firepower and Precision
9.) Batallion Level Drop
10.) Maritime Air Operations
11.) Mass Casualty Evacuation Drill
12.) Long-Range Strike Mission over Indian Ocean Region
13.) Operations at Civilian Installations
The series of operations and drills are primarily targeted to keep IAF personnel on alert and demonstrate IAF 's abilities to carry out a number of missions on extreme terrain and under every situation. Security analysts though say that these missions are also a signal to Pakistan and China that any threat would be met with a capable and befitting counter.