Ever prepared to deliver response, says Air Chief at mega exercise
As calls for military action against Pakistan grow in the wake of the Pulwama car bomb attack in which 40 CRPF men were killed on February 14, air chief BS Dhanoa said the Indian Air Force is ever prepared to deliver an appropriate response assigned by the country’s political leadership.Updated: Feb 17, 2019 00:00 IST
As calls for military action against Pakistan grow in the wake of the Pulwama suicide car bomb attack in which 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) men were killed on February 14, air chief BS Dhanoa on Saturday said the Indian Air Force was ever prepared to deliver an appropriate response assigned by the country’s political leadership.
Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa made the comment in a speech before a fire power demonstration by the IAF involving nearly 140 aircraft including 81 fighter jets at the Pokhran field firing range, about 100 km from the Pakistan border. Army chief General Bipin Rawat was present at the event.
Without naming Pakistan, Dhanoa said India faces an ever present sub-conventional threat as the enemy knows it cannot defeat India in a conventional conflict.
“So today we showcase our ability to punish, our ability to insert and extricate troops from hostile territories,” he asserted. Scores of military attaches from friendly foreign countries were flown from New Delhi to witness the exercise, codenamed Vayu Shakti-2019 and held once in three years.
From Sukhoi-30s destroying simulated enemy runways and Jaguar fighters pulverising radar sites to Akash surface-to-air missiles taking down ‘hostile’ aircraft and Mi-35 gunships attacking a column of ‘enemy’ tanks, the IAF showcased its capability to detect, identity and destroy targets in day and night missions.
“What are we showcasing today? We are showcasing our ability to hit hard, hit fast and hit with precision, hit during day and hit during night and hit under adverse weather conditions through our autonomous bombing capability,” Dhanoa said.
The demonstration of the IAF’s operational capabilities involved Tejas light combat aircraft pounding simulated enemy installations with 2,000lb bombs, Su-30s launching the locally produced Astra missile to take down a hostile jet, MiG-21s raining rockets on targets depicting an armoured column and MiG-27s taking out a bunker complex with bombs. French-origin Mirage-2000 jets attacked simulated targets with 250 kg bombs during the firepower display.
Several of the IAF’s fighter planes targeted and destroyed simulated enemy sites including ammunition dumps, bridges and command posts with a raft of missiles, precision-guided munitions, bombs and rockets.
The Akash missile knocked out a simulated enemy jet at night, one of the highlights of the combat exercise.
Before the display began, the IAF chief said while showcasing its strike capability, the air force doesn’t let its air defence guard down.
“Should the enemy choose to respond, we are showcasing our ability to shoot him down through our airborne and ground-based air defence systems,” he said.
One of the firsts during the exercise was upgraded MiG-29 fighters in an air-to-ground role. The ALH Mk IV Rudra carried out air-to-ground firing using its 20 mm gun.
The IAF said the aim of the exercise was to “conduct firepower demonstration by day, dusk and night to showcase the capability of the IAF to prosecute 24X7 air operations.”
Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman was to witness the exercise but she cancelled some of her official engagements after the Pulwama attack on Thursday.
First Published: Feb 16, 2019 23:54 IST