From Sukhoi 30 to C-17, over 1,000 aircraft are participating in the largest exercise of the Indian Air Force in three decades. As the air force switches from western front along the Pakistan border to northern front near China, here’s the ready reckoner on the military exercise and its significance:1: What is Gagan Shakti 2018?The military exercise began on April 10 and would conclude on April 23. The IAF has mobilised more than 1,100 combat, transport and rotary wing (helicopter) aircraft in order to practice the real time scenario. The day and night exercise, was being conducted along Pakistan border in the Western areas. The forces will switch to China border in the Northern areas now.2: What’s the scale of the exercise?The scale of the exercise can be gauged from the fact that just from Air Force more than 300 officers and more than 15,000 airmen have been mobilised. Joint operations scenario with the Army and the Navy are part of this exercise.3: What exactly goes on during Gagan Shakti?The exercise is covering from the heights of 20,000 ft to the extreme hot areas of the desert and also the maritime scenarios. The IAF is conducting all terrain operations – desert, high altitude, maritime scenarios and special operations- in the real time. Mobility and resilience of air combat operations will be visible from the fact that Aircraft from Bhuj in Gujarat will fly towards Assam and conduct bombing and simultaneously aircraft from Assam will fly towards deserts of Rajasthan and will do bombing. As part of the exercise, mass casualty drill was conducted in northern sector. The C-17 aircraft was used during the exercise.4: How many sorties have been performed so far?According to a Times of India report, around 5,000 sorties were performed in just three days. 5: What about China and Pakistan?As per the protocol, both nations have been informed about the military exercise. However, the sheer scale of Gagan Shakti may worry Islamabad and Beijing. All this despite the fact that the Indian Air Force has just 31 fighter squadron instead of 42 required for a two-front war.6: Any key moments of Gagan Shakti 2018?Yes, the Indian Air Force has been regularly posting glimpses of some amazing manoeuvre during the military exercise. From mid-air refueling to long range strike mission, a look at some of the best moments of the phase -1 of Gagan Shakti 2018:In order to maintain optimum turn around, keeping the aircraft Combat ready; Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) will be placing their technicians at the maintenance bases. Apart from the Defence assets there is participation of the railways and civil aviation manpower and machinery.
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