Indian Air Force (IAF) fighters such as Su-30 MKIs and Jaguars with help from the Navy’s Poseidon-8i maritime reconnaissance aircraft extended 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.
“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.
“Such demonstrations of extended reach utilizing potent standoff weapons in joint coordinated operations with the Navy has showcased IAF’s ability to support the Navy in order to dominate the IOR and effectively address any misadventure by an adversary in our area of interest,” the official said.
During this stage of the exercise, fighters, helicopters and transport aircraft were also deployed at advanced landing grounds (ALGs) close to the Line of Actual Control with China. The ALGs are short prepared/unprepared airstrips close to the borders in the valleys, which have limited rail/road connectivity due to challenging terrain.
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