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IAF carries out mega exercise at Pokhran

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POKHRAN, RAJASTHA (PTI): The Indian Air Force Saturday carried out a mega exercise here involving almost all variants of its fighter jets and attack helicopters, in a fire power demonstration near the border with Pakistan.

The exercise came two days after 40 CRPF personnel were killed in a suicide attack in Kashmir's Pulwama by Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said security forces have been given full freedom to retaliate against the attack.

In the Vayu Shakti exercise, the IAF showcased fire power capability of indigenously-developed platforms like Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) and efficacy of the Akash surface-to-air missile and Astra air-to-air missile.

Fighter jets and helicopters hit targets during day and night. It was for the first time, the ALH and the Akash were deployed in a military exercise.

The IAF also deployed the upgraded MiG-29 fighter jet in an air-to-ground role during the exercise. A total of 137 aircraft including Su-30s, Mirage 2000s, Jaguars, Mig-21 Bison, Mig-27, Mig-29, IL78, Hercules, AN-32 aircraft participated.

Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat, defence attaches of several countries and top officials of defence ministry also witnessed the exercise. Cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar, who is an honorary group captain of the IAF, was also present.

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