New Delhi: India Monday kicked off a major military exercise along the borders with China and Pakistan that will see all frontline assets of the Indian Air Force (IAF) — fighters such as Rafale and air defence systems like S-400, MRSAM and Spyder — in action even as Army formations carry out separate drills in Ladakh.
The exercise is taking place at a time when India will be hosting the G-20 meet that will see global leaders descending on the national capital, which has been thrown into a tight security grid.
Sources in the defence and security establishment told ThePrint that the air exercise — Trishul — was already scheduled from 4 to 14 September and that it would continue through the G-20 meet from 8 to 10 September.
They said that that it is the IAF’s responsibility to ensure full air space security for the meeting, which will see the highest number of world leaders (over 20) that India will be hosting together at any one point of time in the recent past.
The last time such an event was held was in 1983, when then prime minister Indira Gandhi hosted about 70 world leaders as part of the seventh summit of the Non Alignment Movement (NAM).
Sources said the Trishul exercise, which is being held along the northern borders with Pakistan and China, helps with the overall plan to ensure an integrated air defence cover for the G-20 meet, which will also see the IAF deploy a plethora of defensive and offensive assets in and around Delhi.
Speaking about the G-20 preparations, sources said that fighters such as the Mirage 2000 and the Rafale will be carrying out Combat Air Patrol (CAPs) while air defence systems such as anti-aircraft guns, besides the 25-kilometre-range Akash and the nearly 70-kilometre-range Medium Range Surface to Air Missile (MRSAM), have been deployed in and around Delhi.
The longer-range air defence systems like the S-400 will also be in action providing a continuous multi-layer cover.
Sources said the Trishul exercise will also see deployment of India’s Airborne Early Warning and control systems (AEW&CS) which will also be in action for the G20 meet.
Anti-drone systems have also been put in place, sources said.
The G20 comprises the US, the UK, Argentina, Australia, Canada, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, and the European Union (EU), besides India.
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Army to carry out exercise in Ladakh
While the IAF is carrying out Trishul, Indian Army formations are also doing their own set of training exercises in Ladakh.
Sources said more troops have come in for the exercise before the winter, while the ones who were to be rotated out have been held back temporarily.
This means that Ladakh will see a higher density of troops than a month or two earlier but sources underlined that this phenomenon is temporary and troops will go back.
Sources said the soldiers undertaking the exercise in Ladakh will also include those from specialised mountain warfare units and Para.
This is the season of exercises and hence, the idea is that troops carry out their familiarisation exercise and fresh troops are brought in for the winters, they said.
(Edited by Smriti Sinha)
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