Indian Air Force Completes 5,000 Sorties In 72 Hours On Western Front In Gagan Shakti Exercise

| April 17 , 2018 , 10:18 IST

The Indian Air Force has completed a staggering 5,000 sorties by fighter jets in 3 days on the western front towards Pakistan as a part of the ongoing pan-India exercise "Gagan Shakti", and will now be conducting sorties on the northern borders towards China from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh.

“It’s the biggest such exercise in terms of scale since Operation Brasstacks in 1986-1987, or Operation Parakram in 2001-2002 when India nearly went to war with Pakistan after the terror attack on Parliament,” said a senior officer.

Despite the IAF having only 31 fighter squadrons as compared to the 42 estimated requirement to take on the Pakistan-China threat, the Indian Air Force honed its war-fighting skills by testing both offensive and defensive capabilities on the two fronts.

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Apart from the fighters, other aircrafts, helicopters, drones,  as well as hundreds of air defence missile, radar, surveillance and other units are taking part in the Gagan Shakti exercise which is taking place pan-India from April 11-21.

“The aim of the exercise is to validate our operational capabilities and concepts in a realistic war-like scenario as well as check our ability to sustain high-tempo operations. It’s not aimed at any country,” said IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa.

However, while the focus on the western front is to generate the maximum number of sorties with the same number of fighters to overwhelm the enemy forces, the focus in the eastern front is to operate from dispersed locations to avoid rockets from enemy forces and to make deep strikes.

“Fighters are also practising concentrated weapon releases in realistic attack scenarios all throughout Gagan-Shakti, which includes firing precision weapons with ‘through window’ capabilities. A simulated battalion-level airborne assault behind enemy lines, which included paradrop of 560 soldiers, combat vehicles and GPS-guided cargo platforms, has also been undertaken with six C-130J Super Hercules and seven AN-32 aircraft launched from multiple airbases,” said another officer.