Fighter pilots wore diapers and flew non-stop for more than nine hours to carry out the Indian Air Force's farthest and longest bombing exercise recently - symbolising the IAF's extended reach.
They flew Sukhoi-30 MKI fighters to destroy mock targets in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
A senior IAF officer told HT, "The fighters dropped air-to-ground ordnance for the first time on an uninhabited island in the Andamans. We want to exploit the location of these islands to train fighter pilots for extreme missions."
Six fighter planes were launched from air force bases in Bareilly and Pune for the experimental long-haul mission. Russian Ilyushin-78 refuellers flew from Agra to tank up the Sukhois during the flight over the Bay of Bengal.
The officer said long-range missions would be planned regularly from now on to push the limits of technology and human endurance.
Fighter pilots may have to get used to carrying more loads in their diapers. The officer said future missions would be more complex, requiring them to stay airborne for 12 to 15 hours. "We can keep the fighters airborne for as long as we want.
Refuellers are a game-changer," he said. The Air Force has started providing diapers to pilots as 'standard clothing'.
Former IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major, said, "The IAF seems to be gearing up for expeditionary missions. Human endurance should not be a limiting factor in the cockpit."