IAF To Conduct Ex Gaganshakti-2018 With Its Entire Fleet

An all-encompassing coordinated and composite exercise named Gaganshakti is being conducted by the IAF from 08-22 April 2018. The aim of this exercise is real time coordination, deployment and employment of Air Power in a short & intense battle scenario.

Aim of the Exercise

The drill is aimed to tackle the situation of sudden invasion or attack along the difficult terrains of Indo-China border. The IAF troops will be trained to rapidly provide reinforcement in the areas along the Chinese border. The war games are likely to be carried out in the mountainous regions of Dharasu and Pithoragarh in Uttarakhand.

Usage of Entire Machinery

According to reports, the Air Force is likely to mobilise almost its entire fleet of combat and transport aircraft along with helicopters and ground-based assets.

The exercises will see the entire IAF machinery move into top gear to simulate war scenarios in real-time. So, apart from its own sorties, bombing and air superiority missions, the Air Force will also provide close air support for ground operations and carry out marine support with the Indian Navy. All relevant missions will feature live fire drills.

Over a thousand IAF aircrafts are likely to be operated in this exercise while the rest are on standby, making it the largest exercise by the IAF.

According to some reports, the first FO Avani and FO Bhavana among the 3 women fighter pilots are also likely to participate in the exercise.

Some of the key elements of the exercise are

  • Accelerated 24×7 Operations
  • Concepts of accelerated operations
  • Network Centric Operations
  • Long range missions with concentrated weapon releases across all air to ground ranges in India
  • Inter valley troop transfer
  • Flexible use of airspace
  • Joint Maritime Air Operations with the Indian Navy
  • Joint Operations with the Indian Army
  • Simulated Combat Search and Rescue for effective extraction of downed aircrew behind enemy lines
  • Special Operations with Garuds
  • Mass Casualty Evacuation from highway and ALG Operations

It is for the first time that efficacy and integration of LCA in the operational matrix of the IAF is planned. The logistics stamina of the IAF and the ability to sustain continuous operations through day & night would be put to test. It is also likely that nukes will be operated as part of this exercise.

Efficient exploitation of combat support assets, including use of enablers like AWACS, AEW&C, FRA, Transport aircraft and ISR assets forms an integral part of the exercise. Special operations employing transport aircraft and helicopter as well as Special Forces have been planned during the exercise. The IAF will utilize this opportunity to validate new strategies and tactics, especially to validate recently inducted or upgraded assets and equipments.

Joint Operational Doctrine

While it is an IAF centric exercise, it is planned to be executed keeping in mind the “Joint Operational Doctrine”. The requirements of the other services are being met and the same has been factored while planning the exercise settings. Joint operations, including CSFO, Airborne Ops, Air Landed Ops and Maritime Ops, have also been planned.

The IAF will play out real-time scenarios across the country, and will also test out its working relationship with the Indian Army and Indian Navy as part of the exercises.

Apart from wartime drills, IAF will also practice and validate various Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief drills that the IAF is expected to undertake from time to time. Some such measure would involve mobilization of Air Ambulance version of transport aircraft and helicopters to airlift simulated sitting and bedridden casualties to metros/big cities having good medical facilities and would include evacuation of casualties from highways that facilitate such operations.

Full spectrums of operations are planned by IAF with special focus on `Network Centric Operations’, and ‘Effect Based Operations’.

Sex Chats and Arrest of a Group Captain

In February earlier this year, the Special Cell of Delhi Police arrested an Air Force Group Captain Arun Marwaha for allegedly spying for Pakistan’s ISI. He was lured through a seductive conversation on the Facebook accounts following which he is alleged to have shared classified documents.

A source part of the probe informed that he had shared documents relating to combat exercises. One such document that was shared related to exercise Gaganshakti.


Exercise Gaganshakti 2018 is aimed at coordinating operations, maintenance and administrative responses to achieve the stated objectives of the Indian Air Force, in case of any contingency. This exercise will hone the war fighting skills of the air warriors in a real time scenario thus affirming the IAF’s role as the cutting edge of our nation’s military capability in the high mountainous region along the China border.

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