As part of the ongoing mega combat exercise - 'Gaganshakti-2018', Indian Air Force (IAF) on Saturday conducted a battalion level airdrop on the western seaboard to check its deep strike capability in the Indian Ocean Region and beyond.
"As part of the ongoing massive IAF exercise Gaganshakti', IAF conducted maritime air operations on the western seaboard, with the clear aim of air dominance and deep strike validation over the extended area of interest in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR)," the IAF said in a statement.
"In the long-range strike concept validation, the Su-30s, airborne from a base on the Eastern Coast engaged multiple targets, in the Western Sea-board, at distances in excess of 2200 Km. These aircraft then landed at a Southern Base, thus covering a total distance of 3600 Km, in a single mission," the statement added.
#GaganShakti2018 - #IAF & #IndianArmy Parachute Brigade undertook a Battalion level airborne assault, 14Apr18 in C-130 & AN-32 aircraft, in the desert sector. This assault included paradrop of 560 paratroopers, combat vehicles & GPS guided cargo platforms.https://t.co/gyPiymraV3 pic.twitter.com/ik9GYZVAme— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) April 15, 2018
Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra and Vice Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal S B Deo visited the Sirsa air force base in Haryana to take stock of the mega exercise. Later, Mitra and Deo took a sortie in Sukhoi fighter jet.
In the drill, a fleet of Su-30 fighter jets took off from a base on the eastern coast, engaged multiple targets in the western seaboard, at distances beyond 2,500 km, and landed at a southern base, covering a total distance of 4,000 km, in a single mission, it said.
"These staggering ranges were made possible by the support of IL-78 flight refuelling aircraft, thus ensuring long-range strike capabilities for our fighter aircraft, " the IAF said.
Indian Navy's P-8i reconnaissance aircraft and AWACS of IAF supported the operation.
#GaganShakti2018 : Glimpses of Battalion Level Drop...Leap of Faith, Courage & Commitment to the Service. Safeguarding the Blue Skies of the Nation.— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) April 15, 2018
Jai Hind!!!@SpokespersonMoD @DefenceMinIndia @adgpi @indiannavy @DrSubhashMoS pic.twitter.com/ko9grElzbz
Officials said the two-week-long exercise is involving almost the entire assets of the IAF including its fighter squadrons and the main objective of the day-and-night drill is to check the war-waging capability of the force.
The IAF said the exercise 'Gaganshakti' has provided an ideal environment to evaluate joint operations with the Navy.
#GaganShakti2018 : MASS CASUALTY EVACUATION DRILL - #IAF conducted a Mass Casualty Air Evacuation Drill in the Northern sector. The C-17 Aircraft was converted for this role by fixing support structures for the stretchers, in the main cabin. https://t.co/MbO3kIaMas pic.twitter.com/mYqujyscLw— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) April 14, 2018
"The exploitation of the combat support assets helps to extend the reach in the entire IOR, our strategic area of influence," the IAF said.
The officials said the exercise is one of the biggest in recent decades, adding Pakistan has already been informed about it as per laid down protocol.
Gaganshakti exercise started from April 8 and will go on till April 23.