India flexes air muscle: IAF to start new year with grand tests of strength
Flowing from its 80th anniversary celebrations, the Indian Air Force is getting set to conduct its biggest exercise in a decade, named Livewire, in March 2013.
As an adjunct to the effort, the air force combat fleet will be involved in a live firing air power demonstration called Iron Fist to be held in February at the Pokhran range in Rajasthan.
This will be capped by the air force's participation in the Red Flag exercise hosted by the US Air Force at the Nellis Air Force base in the United States.
Livewire is the most ambitious of these events since it will involve the entire IAF. Exercises will be held in every command, both separately and in an integrated manner.
The IAF will also get a number of new aircrafts next year, with the stage set for the induction of C-17 transporters in mid-2013.
Pilatus PC-7, the new trainers, too, will be delivered around the same time.
Livewire had earlier been scheduled for last March but was deferred. The last such drill, though at a slightly smaller scale, was carried out six years ago.
With this, the air force aims to validate its battlefield preparedness concepts as well as new tactics that arise from its acquisition of in- flight refuelling and the Airborne Warning and Control System(AWACs).
The Iron Fist will include day and night operations in which around 100 aircraft will participate, including Sukhoi-30, Jaguar, Mirage 2000, Mig-21 and Mi-25 attack helicopters.
The fire-power display at Pokhran will also witness a demonstration by Light Combat Aircraft(LCA) Tejas, which will be among the wide range of fighters taking part in the drill. This will be the LCA's first outing in an IAF live-fire exercise.
President Pranab Mukherjee is likely to attend one of the demonstration sessions along with defence minister A. K. Antony.
After the two internal drills, IAF combat pilots will fly to the Nellis Air Force base in the US state of Nevada for the Red Flag exercise.
The IAF had earlier participated in the Red Flag, a multinational training in which real battlefield situations are simulated, in 2008.
Eight Su-30 MKI fighters had undergone the rigorous exercise, winning accolades for the IAF's professionalism.
It had cost Rs.100 crore as the aircraft undertook around 350 sorties and a team of more than 100 personnel were air lifted to the US in an IL-76 transport aircraft, accompanied by an IL-78 in-flight refuelling aircraft.
Source: india today News - 14 December 2012
Photo: Indian Air Force_Su-30 Flanker. Livewire will test battle IAF's preparedness while Iron fist will be a test of might for the force. (Photo by files)