For 48 hours on Monday and Tuesday, combat aircraft Su-30MKI (pictured) will practice hitting targets at high-altitude areas along the border with China.
After taking down the ‘enemy’ bases on the western frontier, the Indian Air Force’s biggest ever and almost real war game, Exercise Gaganshakti, has now moved to the mountainous borders on the Chinese front where the fighter aircraft will carry out strikes against targets in high altitude areas and airdrop troops.
In a humongous effort involving the heavy duty C-17 Globe master, Ilyushin-76, C-130J Super Hercules and the Antonov-32s, the entire focus of the exercise has shifted to the Chinese front now, as in the first phase, the Air Force has tackled the ‘threat’ from the Pakistan side.
According to sources, it is believed that the two-phased exercise is being carried out under the presumption that the threat initially emanates from the western front and is suppressed through a swift offensive in a short time frame.
In the second phase, it is learnt, the assumption would be that fazed by the crushing defeat of India’s western neighbour, the northern adversary also starts offensive operations along the 4,000 kilometer border for which the entire focus of operations of the Air Force is shifted to the eastern front.
“On Monday and Tuesday, for 48 hours, the combat aircraft including the Su-30MKI will practice hitting at targets at high altitude areas along the border with China as locating and hitting them at high altitude is comparatively difficult,” a government source told MAIL TODAY.
The radars also find it difficult to pick up hidden targets and the war games would also help the pilots improve their skills in this field, the sources said. During the war games to shift focus on to the mountainous terrain from the desert and plains of the western front, the transport aircraft would carry along the support equipment for the fighter squadrons of Mirage 2000, MiG 29 and Jaguars, while the mobile missile units have also moved swiftly in that region, the sources said.
“One of the biggest achievements of the exercise has been to achieve a high serviceability of 80 per cent in terms of fighter aircraft, which means almost 500 of the more than 600 aircraft fleet of the force is available for offensive operations. This figure is astonishing as it is comparatively lower in peace times,” they said.
Air Force officials also credited the support of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in extending support to achieve such high numbers in terms of serviceability as the public sector unit had deployed its technical teams at forward bases for support.
The Air Force would also deploy helicopters to carry out extensive Inter-Valley Troop Transfer drills, under which troops would be rapidly deployed from one place to other to counter a sudden intrusion by enemy troops in a high mountainous pass.
Sources said in the first phase of the exercise, the aircraft of the Delhi-based Western Air Command and the Gandhinagar-based South Western Air Command clocked 5,000 hours of fighter aircraft flying in three days which is more than the flying they do together in a month.
The exercise started on April 8 and is expected to continue till April 22, during which the force will validate all its warfighting concepts.