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Gaganshakti 2018: IAF demonstrates aerial refueling capability for long missions

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NEW DELHI: In the ongoing mega combat exercise – ‘Gaganshakti-2018’, Indian Air Force (IAF) on Saturday demonstrated its mid-air refueling capability to carry out air dominance and deep strike validation over the extended area of interest in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

The IAF conducted maritime air operations on the Western sea board, with its frontline fighter Su-30 MKIs.

“The fighters took from an eastern air base, engaged multiple targets in the western seaboard covering a distance of more than 2500 Km. Finally, it landed at a Southern Air Base, thus covering a total distance of 4000 Km, in a single mission,” read an IAF official release.

These long rang mission was made possible by the support of IL-78 Flight refueling aircraft.

IL-78 demonstrated the importance of refueling aircraft during any long-range missions, as it would ensure long range strike capabilities for the Su-30 MKI.

These joint operations were held in unison with the help of Indian Navy’s Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) platform, P-8I aircraft.

The official release noted, “Exercise Gaganshakti is proving to be an ideal environment to evaluate Joint Operations with the Indian Navy, to test enablers such as AWACS and Flight Refueling Aircrafts (FRAs) in Op matrix in conjunction with Su-30 and Jaguar AC.”

The exploitation of the combat support assets helps to extend the reach in the entire Indian Ocean Region (IOR), our strategic area of influence.

The scale of the exercise can be gauged from the fact that just from Air Force more than 300 officers and more than 15,000 airmen have been mobilised. Joint operations scenario with the Army and the Navy are also a part of this exercise.

The pan India synergised exercise will showcase the multi-spectrum capabilities, both offensive and defensive. The IAF will conduct all terrain operations- desert, high altitude, maritime scenarios and special operations- in the real time.

Long-range bombing exercise
The IAF conducted long-range bombing exercise as a part its biggest ever its biggest combat drill Gaganshakti, 2018.

The Indian Air Force is showcasing its reach and preparedness in this drill, which started from April 10 and will continue till April 23.

On Friday, the bombers exercised long range bombing operations where the aircraft got airborne from Kalaikonda and exercised bombing over the area of Lakshadweep and returned back.

In between the air refuellers refuelled the bombers for their long reach and again did the refuelling on the way back.

It shows the preparedness to respond and reach over the Indian Ocean region in case of any contingency.

Indian Air Force is doing it biggest ever exercise Gagan Shakti 2018, and has mobilised more than 1100 combat, transport and rotary wing (helicopter) aircraft in order to practice the real time scenario of Combat with the enemy encompassing along Pakistan border in the Western areas and along China border in the Northern areas.

If a situation arises where both China and Pakistan are at war with India at the same time, then the IAF can fight on both fronts together.

For the first time, the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft Tejas are taking part in the exercise. Navy’s Maritime Combat Aircraft MiG 29s are also taking part.

More than 300 officers and 15000 air warriors are participating in the exercise, which also has the interoperability operations involving the Army and Navy. This is including both, the Western Borders and Northern Borders.

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