IAF carries out firepower exercise
Pokhran, February 28
The high-voltage exercise ‘Vayu Shakti’, witnessed by President Pratibha Patil, Defence Minister AK Antony and a host of foreign dignitaries, showcased massive bombing, aerial dogfight and day-night air drop of commandos in the Thar desert.
In the two-hour event, 100 combat, reconnaissance, transport and rotary wing aircraft took part in the massive Fire Power Demonstration (FPD) by the world’s fourth-largest air force and displayed the day and night employability of air power by frontline fighter aircraft.
Speaking on the occasion, South Western Air Command Chief Air Marshall P S Bhangu said the demonstration was being carried out after six years and the plan was to hold it more frequently.
Despite yesterday’s crash-landing at Jaisalmer, the Sarang team performed with its ALH Dhruv helicopters. A chopper of the team had crash-landed due to loss of power in flight yesterday while rehearsing for the show.
Along with Surya Kiran and Sarang aerobatic display teams, the Sukhoi-30s also performed aerial stunts.
Russian-origin Mi-35 attack helicopters, Mi-17 medium lift helicopters, IL-76 heavy lift and AN-32 medium lift transport plane also flew over the venue for the day-and-night air drop for specialised operations.
For the first time, the AWACS was used to monitor the mammoth exercise while an unmanned aerial vehicle streamed live video images of the target destruction.
In addition to 70 aircraft which participated in the exercise, 30 aircraft were kept on standby, in both air and on the ground.
For the FPD, mock radar sites, tanks, marshalling yards, terrorist camps, runway, BMP infantry fighting vehicles, blast pens and convoys are among a few of the targets that pilots destroyed.
IAF’s Special Forces Garuds were also para-dropped, who carried out the drill to neutralise a mock terrorist camp.
Displaying jointness among Services, Army’s Special Forces and Navy’s Marine Commandos also took part in the exercise.
The idea of the exercise is to project the IAF’s objectives in its present avatar, as spelt out by Air Chief Marshal P V Naik: “To see first and farthest, to reach first and furthest and to hit hard and