HomeIndian DefenceIAF displays firepower in Exercise Vayu Shakti with Rafale, LCH Prachand among...

IAF displays firepower in Exercise Vayu Shakti with Rafale, LCH Prachand among 120 aircraft

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The Pokhran range close to the India-Pakistan border in Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer on Saturday witnessed the Indian Air Force’s full spectrum display of combat and fire capabilities as part of its Exercise Vayu Shakti-2024. Over 120 aircraft of the IAF, including Rafale, Su-30 MKI, MiG-29, Mirage-2000, Tejas, C-17 and C-130J, took part in the exercise, keeping with the tagline ‘lightning strike from the sky’.

The fighter jets attacked and destroyed simulated enemy targets on the ground and in the air. A Rafale aircraft also successfully engaged an aerial target with a Beyond Visual Range air-to-air missile.

The exercise also showcased combat support operations by transport aircraft, including a Containerised Delivery System drop by a C-17 heavy-lift aircraft and an assault landing by a C-130J carrying the IAF’s elite Garud commandos.

An Apache attack helicopter demonstrated its firepower in this event for the first time, while Mi-17 helicopters engaged ground targets. The IAF’s Chinook helicopters demonstrated rapid deployment of combat assets by airlifting the Army’s M-777 Ultra-Light Howitzers in an underslung mode.

Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Anil Chauhan was the chief guest at the event.

Defence spokesperson Amitabh Sharma said approximately 50 tonnes of ordnance was dropped in two hours over an area of two square kilometres during the exercise, showcasing the IAF’s offensive lethality and precision targeting capability. Upholding the IAF’s commitment towards ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat, the indigenously developed Tejas aircraft showcased its swing-role capability and destroyed an aerial target with a missile, followed by the engagement of a ground target with bombs. The IAF also displayed a long-range unmanned drone during the exercise.

As the sun set on the horizon, Garud commandos carried out an ‘urban intervention’ drill, demonstrating their prowess in anti-insurgency operations aimed at clearing hideouts of inimical elements.

The indigenous air defence systems Akash and SAMAR were also showcased.

The IAF also displayed for night-time capabilities of the indigenous Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) ‘Prachand’ which neutralised a designated target using rockets. This was followed by a Jaguar and a Su-30 MKI dropping heavy calibre weapons at night. Remotely piloted aircraft carried out the bomb damage assessment of all targets that was live-streamed to the operations centre and the audience.

The event also included a free fall drop by the ‘Akashganga’ team and flare dispensing by a C-130J aircraft.

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