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IAF displays precision fire power capabilities, manoeuvres


OSA AK-M surface to air missile is launched during the 'Iron Fist 2013' in Pokhran. A PTI photo.

POKHRAN, RAJ (PTI): Frontline fighter jets, helicopters and transport aircraft of Indian Air Force on Friday displayed their operational and precision fire power capabilities during a day-night exercise in a range in Thar Desert in Rajasthan.

Watched by President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the exercise, one of the biggest conducted by the force, saw air to-ground weapons firing and precision bombing by IAF aircraft at the range near Jaisalmer.

"This is the demonstration of man, machine, weapons and technology interfaces before the supreme commander of the armed forces", who is the President, IAF chief Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne said.

Exhibiting their tremendous control over the flying machines, the pilots demonstrated their skills in manoeuvring a range of frontline planes like SU-30 MKI, Mirage 2000, Jaguar, MIG-21, MIG-27, MIG-29 besides Hawk trainers.

A highlight of the display was aerobatics and target bombing by indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) and flying by Light Combat Helicopters (LCH).

Besides, the fire power demonstration IAF's helicopter team Sarang gave a thrilling aerobatics demonstration. The Air Force also showcased its surface-to-air missile systems.

The show was also witnessed by Defence Minister A K Antony, Rajasthan Governor Margaret Alva, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and defence attaches of friendly countries at the sprawling Pokhran Range.

The exercise highlighted IAF's capabilities to operate in a network-centric environment round-the-clock, the lethality and precision of its ground-based weapon systems and the efficiency of its special forces.

Giving an insight into the exercise and the level of modernisation in the force, Air Chief Marshal Browne said IAF has progressed to execute seamless network-centric operations.

After the opening remarks by Browne, the firepower exercise commenced with flag trooping by Mi8 helicopters and 'journey of IAF and indigenous package flypast', followed by another package including one of 'net enabled operations'.

The opening of the thrilling grand exercise with helicopter fly past was followed by sorties by vintage aircraft Tiger Moth, the first basic trainer aircraft of the IAF.

As the show moved on, Swiss trainer aircraft 'Pilatus PC-7', the latest procurement by the IAF, displayed manoeuvres.

A sonic boom generated by Mig-27 rocked the area which was followed by mixed flying by fighters and then helicopters.

Fighter aircrafts performed fire power demonstration and destroyed mock targets on the ground.

Two types of bomb iron bombs and laser guided bombs - were fired in the exercise.

Targets which were successfully destroyed by the pilots were mock radar sites, tanks marshalling yards, terrorist camps, runway, BMP, communication hub and convoys among others.

Three SU-30s formed Trishul formation leaving people at the ground platform awestruck.

The first prototype of LCH performed breathtaking manoeuvres such as moving back in the sky which are not possible in conventional helicopters.

In addition, troop inspection of Garuds (IAF's special force) and NSG to neutralise a mock terrorist camp and display by para jumping team Akash Ganga were demonstrated in the event.

In the daring feat, the IAF displayed more than 30 types of platforms and weapons systems amounting to a participation of over 200 aircraft.

Air Defence Operations, Counter Surface Force Operations, Urban Warfare and Combat Search Rescue Operations were among various aspects of fire power the force displayed in the event in which 'Air Warrior Drill Team' and 'Air Warrior Symphony Orchestra' also performed.

During the exercise, three targets, including one railway yard, could not be destroyed as the pilots' aborted firing at the last moment. However, the IAF did not clarify or explained it due to operational reasons.

Meanwhile, amid the striking fire power demonstration by roaring fighter jets, Indian Air Force's helicopter aerobatics display team 'Sarang' mesmerised spectators by its breathtaking performance.

The team on four helicopters left viewers spellbound with its thrilling performances during the show.

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