National Defence Bureau,
New Delhi, 15 April 2018
EXERCISE GAGANSHAKTI – 2018: BATTALION LEVEL AIRBORNE ASSAULT JOINT OPERATIONS
As part of the ongoing IAF exercise ‘Gaganshakti-2018’, in a joint operation, the IAF and Indian Army Parachute Brigade undertook a Battalion level airborne assault on the evening and night of 14 Apr 18, in the desert sector. This assault included paradrop of 560 paratroopers, combat vehicles and GPS guided cargo platforms. The landing force was dropped behind the simulated enemy lines to soften up the likely resistance to our own armoured offensive. The airborne force comprised six C-130J and seven An-32 aircraft launched from multiple IAF bases. The force was provided aerial surveillance by AWACS and protected by a Flight of SU-30 Air Superiority Fighters.
Airborne operations are a means of aerial insertion of troops, equipment or supplies directly into the battle zone. Airborne operations are high risk operations which are based on accurate intelligence, dynamic air dominance by own forces and criticality of requirement by ground forces. Airborne assault is a subset of Airborne Operations wherein combat troops and equipment are para dropped into the tactical battle area. These troops have specific tasks like disrupting enemy lines of communication, capture/ destruction of critical enemy infrastructure.
The accuracy and outcome of the mission highlights IAF’s multi spectral capabilities and its efficiency in providing timely support to ground forces.
Earlier , as part of the ongoing massive IAF exercise ‘Gaganshakti-2018’, the Indian Air Force conducted a Mass Casualty Air Evacuation Drill in the Northern sector. 88 Casualties were airlifted from Leh and taken to Chandigarh by C-17. The C-17 Globe Master Aircraft was converted for this role by fixing support structures for the stretchers, in the main cabin. An indigenously developed Patient Transfer Unit (PTU) capable of providing In-Flight Critical Care to patients was demonstrated during the exercise.
After landing at Chandigarh, these patients were evacuated to Command Hospital, Chandimandir. For swift transfer of the patients in ambulances to the Hospital, a green corridor was made in liaison with Chandigarh civil authorities.
With this demonstration the IAF has proven its flexibility and quick response in carrying out mass casualty evacuations. This capability will also be utilised by the IAF in case of Human Assistance & Disaster Relief operations near the incident locations by even landing on the designated highways.
MARITIME AIR OPERATIONS
As part of the ongoing massive IAF exercise ‘Gaganshakti-2018’, on 14 Apr 18 the IAF conducted maritime air operations on the Western sea board, with the clear aim of air dominance and deep strike validation over the extended area of interest in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). In the long range strike concept validation, the Su-30s, airborne from a base on the eastern coast engaged multiple targets, in the western seaboard, at distances beyond 2500 Km, and landed at a southern base, thus covering a total distance of 4000 Km, in a single mission. These staggering ranges were made possible by support of IL-78 Flight Refueling Aircraft, thus ensuring long range strike capabilities for our fighter aircraft. These joint operations have Indian Navy P-8i aircraft and AWACS of IAF in support.
Exercise Gaganshakti has provided an ideal environment to evaluate Joint Operations with the Indian Navy, to test enablers such as AWACS and FRAs in the Op matrix and in conjunction with Su-30 and Jaguar ac. The exploitation of the combat support assets helps to extend the reach in the entire IOR, our strategic area of influence.