The Indian Air Force (IAF) has concluded Exercise Gagan Shakti-2018, which focused on improving real-time coordination, deployment and employment of air power in a short and intense battle scenario.
Conducted in two phases, the lAF exercise tested the entire range of combat machinery to validate its concept of operations and combat capability.
During Phase I of the exercise, the airforce involved activation of Western, South Western and Southern Air Commands, with the affiliated Indian Army and naval components.
The second phase of the exercise involved activation of Western, Central, Eastern and Southern Air Commands.
During the exercise, fighter jets carried out surge operations by generating the maximum number of sorties in a 24-hour cycle and conducted long-range missions with concentrated live and simulated weapon releases across all air to ground ranges in the country.
More than 11,000 sorties were flown, which include approximately 9,000 sorties by fighter aircraft, as part of Exercise Gagan Shakti-2018.
The IAF tested the efficacy and integration of domestically developed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) with the Akash Missile system in the operational matrix.
The capabilities of upgraded and modernised Mirage-2000 and MiG-29 aircraft were also evaluated for the first time in an operational environment, while all variants of aerial weapons, including standoff and precision weapons, were employed to demonstrate their use in the Air Operations Matrix.
The combat support operations also involved missions by force enablers such as Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS), Air to Air refuellers, Special Ops comprising a Battalion Group paradrop, and Special Ops with Garud Commandos. It also involved combat search-and-rescue for effective extraction of downed aircrew behind enemy lines, as well as sea rescue and operations from Advanced Landing Grounds.
For joint operations, IAF’s joint command and control structures with the Indian Army and the Indian Navy such as Advance HQ of IAF co-located with Army Commands, Tactical Air Centres, Maritime Air Ops Centre and Maritime Elements of Air Force, were activated.
Exercise Gagan Shakti 2018 provided the IAF with an opportunity to practice its combat drills and carry out operations in a realistic scenario.