SINGAPORE | From the Himalayas to the Korean DMZ to the South China Sea, the balance of power in Asia appears to be shifting. But beneath the rhetoric, have the fundamentals really changed ? In East–West Center International Media Conference in Singapore, an expert panel of journalists, policy analysts, and academics examined the situation from…
The Chinese media has expressed sneering admiration for Operation Gaganshakti of the Indian Air Force that has now tested out its capabilities to dominate the skies as far as Malacca Straits.
In a massive show of strength, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is conducting ‘Gagan Shakti 2018’, the biggest ever war combat game exercise on the Pakistan and China border.
Gagan Shakti is the biggest military exercise in decades undertaken by India to showcase its air dominance over the entire extended area of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
To conduct this exercise, the IAF has mobilised more than 1,100 combat, transport and rotary wing (helicopter) aircrafts, apart from 300 officers and 1500 airmen.
The IAF is conducting all terrain operations – desert, high altitude, maritime scenarios and special operations–in real time with specific focus on key areas like aerial combat, air to surface combat, paratrooper assault and medical evacuation.
The first phase of the exercise began on April 10, in which the focus was on the western border with Pakistan. In this phase, Su–30 and Jaguar fighter aircraft equipped with the potent Brahmos and Harpoon Anti–ship missiles addressed in–depth targets over the Western sea boards.
Currently, phase two the combat mission is going on with the focus now shifting to the eastern corridor – near the China border in the north–eastern states.
Gagan Shakti is the biggest military exercise in decades undertaken by India to showcase its air dominance over the entire extended area of the Indian Ocean Region. To conduct this exercise, the IAF has mobilised more than 1,100 combat, transport and rotary wing (helicopter) aircrafts, apart from 300 officers and 1500 airmen
As per military protocol, both Pakistan and China have been kept in the loop about the exercise.
The emphasis is now on addressing maritime targets in conjunction with the Indian Navy. The full repertoire of maritime assets is now operating from bases in the southern peninsula and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. This will go on until April 23.
Extensive missions will be flown by the Su–30 and Jaguar in conjunction with the Indian Navy’s P–8i MR aircraft using long range weapons to refine and practice offensive and defensive tactics against maritime targets.
An IAF spokesperson said such demonstrations in joint–coordinated operations with the Indian Navy adequately reinforce the IAF’s ability to dominate the Indian Ocean and “effectively address any misadventure by an adversary in our area of interest”.
The two–week long exercise will involve almost the entire assets of the IAF, including its fighter squadrons, and will be used to assess war waging might of the force.
Indian Air Force (IAF) fighters such as Su–30 MKIs and Jaguars with help from the Navy’s Poseidon–8i maritime reconnaissance aircraft managed to extend their dominance over the Bay of Bengal region extending up to the Malacca Straits during the last phase of Exercise Gaganshakti 2018.
This exercise by IAF is being considered the biggest in recent times. After extensive rounds of flying well into the Arabian Sea along the country’s western seaboard, IAF turned its attention to the east. While operating from high altitude landing grounds was part of the drill, so was showcasing its powers to extend well beyond the mainland to places that can pose a threat to the nation.
After extensive rounds of flying well into the Arabian Sea along the country’s western seaboard, IAF turned its attention to the east. While operating from high altitude landing grounds was part of the drill, so was showcasing its powers to extend well beyond the mainland to places that can pose a threat to the nation
“Dominance over the entire extended area of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) with the Navy’s support is being demonstrated by employment of combat enablers like FRA (Flight Refuelling Aircraft). The Su–30s and Jaguars carried potent long–distance anti–shipping weaponry. While the Sukhois carried BrahMos missiles, the Jaguars were armed with the potent Harpoon anti-ship missiles. During the exercise, the Su–30s also displayed their capabilities of operating from air bases at the extreme east to strike targets far out at sea to the west of the country using air–to–air refuelling,” an official said.
During Phase–II, all maritime assets will be based out of southern naval bases and the Andamans. Extensive missions are being flown by Su–30s and Jaguars in conjunction with Navy’s P–8is using long range weapons to practice, revise and refine tactics. The aircraft practised both offensive and defensive roles.
India knows it is impossible at its current level of strength cannot hold the Chinese war machine in the Himalayas. So in the event of a war it will focus on attacking Chinese merchant shipping and Navy in Indian Ocean and choke Malacca straits and all land to sea access like Kyaukphyu in Myanmar in East to Gwader in Pakistan in West. Gaganshakti exercise is seeking to check the limits of Indian Air domination in this stretch. Hence extensive ops in coordination with navy is a feature of ops Gaganshakti. ■