New Delhi: As the Indian establishment looks for a “befitting reply” to strike back after the Pulwama attack, over 81 fighter jets of the Indian Air Force were in action on Saturday at the western border with Pakistan. The top Indian fighter jets — Mirage 2000, MiG-29, Jaguar and Su-30, among others — were participating in the “Vayu Shakti” exercise at the Pokhran air to ground range in Rajasthan, which demonstrates the IAF’s capability to detect targets at the ground, hit them with precision and completely neutralise enemy assets. It is a showcase of the lethality of the Indian Air Force.
With talk of precision air strikes by military experts across the border after the Pulwama attack, Pakistan will be on alert about an exercise involving over 140 aircraft (fighter jets, transport aircraft and helicopters, among others) near the border which are battle-ready and can hit targets at a short notice.
“The IAF is ever prepared to deliver the appropriate response as assigned by our political leadership and will always remain at the forefront in executing its missions”, said Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa, Chief of Air Staff. He went on to assure the nation of the IAF’s capability to meet national security challenges and defend the nation’s sovereignty. “We are showcasing our ability to hit hard, hit fast and hit with precision, hit during the day, during the night and hit under adverse weather conditions through our autonomous bombing capability,” the Air Chief added.
As part of sub-conventional conflict like a surgical strike, the IAF demonstrated its ability to insert and extricate troops from hostile territories.
During the exercise, various simulated enemy targets on the ground and in the air were targeted and destroyed, employing a variety of missiles, precision-guided munitions, unguided bombs and rockets by various fighter aircraft of the IAF that included the Su-30, MiG-27, MiG-29 upgrade, LCA-Tejas, Mirage 2000, MiG-21 Bison and Hawk, and also the weaponised version of the indigenous Advanced Light Helicopter.
Of special note were the precision strikes to destroy Transporter ErectorLaunchers 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.
During the exercise, 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.