Show of Strength

The IAF demonstrated its operational capabilities in Jaisalmer in an impressive display

Rohan Ramesh

Days before Aero India started, the Indian Air Force (IAF) on February 16 put on show its extremely advanced operational capabilities at the Pokhran range near Jaisalmer. Guests present on the occasion included Chairman, Armed Forces Tribunal, Justice Virender Singh and the Chief of the Army Staff, General Bipin Rawat.

Show of Strength

Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa Chief of the Air Staff arrived by a special operations C-130J aircraft. The aircraft displayed its ability to land in short airstrips. The Chief of the Air Staff was received by Air Marshal H.S. Arora AVSM Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief (AOC-in-C) South Western Air Command.

Following his arrival, ACM Dhanoa released a coffee table book titled 1971 Indo-Pak War: An Aerial Account. As a precursor to the Fire Power Display, three Mi-17 helicopters, flying the National Flag, Air Force ensign and the South Western Air Command ensign, flew past the grand stand.

Soon after, the Jaguar aircraft flew at low level taking images of the grand stand. This was followed by a spine-tingling supersonic run by a MiG-29 fighter which left a sonic boom in its wake.

The Chief of the Air Staff, in his opening address, gave an overview of the display and assured the nation of the IAF’s commitment to national defence and of its capability to thwart any external aggression.

During the Fire Power Display, various simulated enemy targets on ground and in air were targeted and destroyed employing a variety of missiles, precision-guided munitions, unguided bombs and rockets by various fighter aircraft of the IAF.

Su-30, Mig-27, Mig-29 upgrade, LCA-Tejas, Mirage-2000, Mig-21 Bison and Hawk and the weaponised version of the indigenous Advanced Light Helicopter were on display.

Of special note were the precision strikes to destroy Transporter Erector Launchers of enemy surface-to-surface missiles and the swing role capability of the indigenously built Tejas aircraft demonstrated through the destruction of an aerial target with a missile and then a ground target with bombs, in the same sortie.

In the setting sun, the viewers saw the display of special heliborne operations that included Bambi bucket ops to put out large fires, and troop insertion by low hover jump and rappelling.

Thereafter, Garud Special Forces showed their expertise in conducting anti-insurgency operations in an urban area. This was followed by a flypast by the Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft, which concluded the day segment of the display.

As dusk fell, the desert range witnessed paradrop of Garud Special Forces on to the venue from an An-32 aircraft flying high above. During a short break, the Air Warrior Symphony Orchestra (AWSO) was on hand to serenade the audience with its foot-tapping musical performance.

As night descended, the indigenous Surface-to-Air Guided weapon, the Akash missile, knocked out a target flying in the sky above. This was followed by Mi-17V5 and Mi-35 helicopters raining rockets on simulated enemy targets.

Su-30s, Jaguars and Mig-27s resumed operations and destroyed the remaining targets with accuracy, displaying the IAF’s operational capability by night. The final demonstration was a scintillating display of flare dispensation by an An-32 and a C-130J Hercules aircraft that lit up the Pokhran night sky.

The CAS complimented all the participating Air Warriors for having put up an impressive demonstration.


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