Exercise Vayu Shakti – 2024: Indian Air Force showcases its firepower and joint-operations capabilities

Team India Sentinels Sunday 18th of February 2024 12:08 PM

A Sukhoi-30MKI drops bombs at a target during Exercise Vayu Shakti – 2024. (Photo: Indian Air Force)

Pokhran/New Delhi: The Indian Air Force concluded its triennial exercise Vayu Shakti – 2024 on Saturday evening at the Pokhran air-to-ground range near Jaisalmer in Rajasthan. The one-day exercise was a spectacular display of the IAF’s offensive and defensive capabilities, as well as its joint operations with the Indian Army.

The exercise also highlighted the indigenous strength of the IAF, with the participation of homegrown platforms such as Tejas light combat aircraft, Prachand attack helicopters, Dhruv utility helicopters, Akash and Samar missile systems.

The exercise featured a wide array of aircraft, including fighters, bombers, helicopters, transporters, and refuelers. A total of 121 aircraft took part in the exercise, demonstrating their precision and long-range weapon-delivery capabilities. The aircraft operated from multiple airbases, showcasing the IAF’s ability to conduct swift and flexible operations.

Over 120 aircraft, including fighter jets, helicopters, transport aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), participated in the exercise. The impressive line-up included:

Fighter jets – Rafale, Mirage 2000, Sukhoi-30MKI, Tejas, Jaguar, Hawk trainers.
Helicopters – Apache, Chinook, Mi-17.
Transport aircraft – An-32, C-17 Globemaster III, C-130J Super Hercules.
Unmanned aerial vehicles – Heron, IAI Searcher.

Some firsts in the exercise were:

* The first-ever demonstration of the Rafale fighter jet in India, which successfully engaged an aerial target with a beyond visual range air-to-air missile.
* The first-ever demonstration of the Chinook heavy-lift helicopter, which carried a M777 howitzer and delivered it to a forward location.
* The first-ever demonstration of the Prachand helicopter, which is a weaponized version of the Dhruv helicopter equipped with rockets, missiles, and guns.
* The first-ever demonstration of the Akash and Samar surface-to-air missile systems, which tracked and shot down intruding aircraft, highlighting India’s self-reliance in defence technology.
* The demonstration of the C-130J, C-17 and An-32 transport aircraft, which carried out special operations, involved the IAF’s Garud special forces and Indian Army elements. The operations included a containerized delivery-system drop, an assault landing, a paradrop, and a heliborne operation.
* The demonstration of the Apache attack helicopters along with the weaponized version of the Mi-17 helicopters, which provided close air support and fire support to the ground forces.

The drills simulated a realistic full-spectrum conflict, encompassing air-to-air combat, air-to-ground strikes, aerial refuelling, and search and rescue operations.

Some key highlights:

Precision strikes – Fighter jets, like Rafale and Mirage 2000, displayed their laser-guided bomb and missile capabilities, neutralizing simulated enemy targets with pinpoint accuracy.
Joint operations – Seamless coordination was exhibited between the IAF and the Indian Army, with airstrikes supporting ground troops and helicopters providing close air support.
Night operations – The exercise tested the IAF’s night-fighting capabilities, showcasing its ability to operate effectively under challenging conditions.
Indigenous content – The exercise provided a platform to showcase the advancements in India’s indigenous defence technology. Akash and Samar surface-to-air missile systems were successfully deployed, demonstrating their effectiveness.

About Exercise Vayu Shakti

Vayu Shakti, which means “air power” in Hindi, is a triennial showcase of the Indian Air Force’s might and operational capabilities.

This large-scale exercise, held since 1999, demonstrates the IAF’s offensive and defensive capabilities through a series of realistic combat scenarios. From air-to-air battles to precision strikes and strategic manoeuvres, Vayu Shakti puts the IAF’s skills and equipment on display.

This exercise also serves as a powerful deterrence and a testament to India’s commitment to its national security.

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