India is stepping up its military focus on the western front.
The Indian Air Force has laid the groundwork for operationalising its latest fighter base at Phalodi in Rajasthan, barely 100 km from the India-Pakistan border. The army is also preparing to mount an ‘offensive’ in the western sector, which has been the scene of some deadly fighting in the country’s previous wars.
“Fighters from the Phalodi airbase will be able to reach the border in five minutes. The strategically located base will bridge the gaps in air defence capabilities. The base is ready to undertake all types of fighter operations,” said an IAF officer.
Combat-ready aircraft would be deployed there soon, he said.
The government approved the fighter base, located between Jaisalmer and Jodhpur, after the 1999 Kargil war to give the air force operational flexibility in future geo-political scenarios. Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik will inaugurate the airbase on Tuesday. A Jaguar deep strike penetration aircraft will be the first fighter to land there.
The army will be simulating battlefield conditions in the deserts of Rajasthan to address the dynamic changes sweeping today’s battlespace as part of the ‘Exercise Yodha Shakti’, being conducted by Mathura-based 1 Corps around mid-April.
In operational terms, the exercise involving 45,000 troops will seek to tighten the sensor-to-shooter loop and leverage battlefield transparency to triumph in future wars.
Supported by airpower, armour and blazing Bofors guns, the armed forces will aim to leverage “information advantage” to increase combat power through the application of network-centric warfare.