National Defence Bureau, 12 March 2016
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will witness the high voltage war exercise of Indian Air Force (IAF) code named “Iron Fist 2016” at Pokhran range on 18th March. The motto of this year’s exercise is “Demonstrating The Capability To Punish”…. “Weapons On Target…On Time”. The exercise being held on the hostile western border of India clearly sends strategic message to Pakistan. According to the Vice Chief of IAF, Air Marshal BS Dhanoa, India is the only country to have both day and night combat operations capabilities in Indian subcontinent. Supreme commander of three services, President of India, Pranab Mukherjee will also see India’s top frontline fighters bombing the enemy targets and firing missiles to tame the enemy in the mock war exercise in Rajasthan’s Thar desert.
For the first time, India’s indigenously developed fourth generation fighter jet, LCA Tejas will perform swing role during the exercise. LCA will fire R-73, a short range air to air missile of Soviet origin along with the Griffin missiles, precision guided munition from Raytheon, a US defence company in swing role. Swing role is when an aircraft quickly and instantly changes its role by accomplishing both air- to air and air-to-surface roles on the same mission.
Group Captain PV Sivanand during his curtain raiser presentation said that the mammoth exercise would involve the participation of a total 181 aircraft from various bases across the country in total 53 events in Pokhran. Out of these, 103 would be frontline fighters, 53 helicopters and 19 transport aircrafts. Iron First exercise is being held after every 3 years last one was in 2013.
“In a first, demonstration capability of Akash Missile System and firing of Astra beyond visual range (BVR) will also be demonstrated. The indigenously developed Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) will fire rocket to engage enemy armour. For joint operation capability demo in counter surface and support ops, IAF will demonstrate capability by both fixed and rotary aircrafts”, said Air Marshal, BS Dhanoa.
IAF has confirmed to demonstrate the air borne assault capability of C-17 Globemaster by dropping IAF’s Garud para commandos all being trained as paratroopers. C-130J Super Hercules will also carry out assault landing at Chandan Range in Pokhran. If you can recall C-130J performed the highest landing at the Daulat Beg Oldie airstrip in Ladakh at a height of 16,614 feet on 20 August 2013.
The puropose of Iron Fist is to fight the army, navy and air force of the enemy during the war day and night, a capability demonstrated by only IAF in Indian subcontinent. IAF can’st demonstrate its Anti-ship capabilities as Pokhran range is a desert, elaborated Air Marshal BS Dhanoa.
Sarang air display, low level aerobatics by Su-30mki, air warrior drill team and air symphony orchestra will also enthrall the audience. Rohini Radar and Integrated Air Command and Control System will control the movement of 181 aircrafts operating from different air bases.
From the days of flying vintage aircraft like the Tiger Moth and the Harvard, the Indian Air Force has transformed itself into a modern fighting force. While upgrading its inventory in terms of aerial platforms, sensors and weapon systems, the IAF has also simultaneously improved upon the capabilities of the ‘human behind the machine’ whilst rightfully upholding its mission statement, “People First, Mission Always. Off late IAF has developed significant indigenisation and about 52 per cent components are developed indigenously.
Glimpses of an exponential increase in the operational capabilities of the Air Force with focus on the concept of all weather, network centric operations, precision weapon delivery and ability to deliver lethal firepower would be on display during the exercise.
Defence Attaches of Pakistan and China will not be part of the diplomatic delegation invited to witness the super charged aerial ballet informed Air Marshal BS Dhanoa when specifically asked by reporters. He explained later that decision to this effect was jointly taken by the Ministry of External Affairs and the Defence Ministry.