AIF showcases its ability to deliver lethal punch

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Pokhran, Jaisalmer, Dec 8 (UNI) Showcasing flying skills and marksmanship, Indian Air Force (IAF) air warriors blasted away an array of assorted targets like mock enemy radar sites, troops and convoys with rockets, laser-guided bombs and missiles in the fire power demonstration (FPD) held at the air-to-ground weapons firing range at Pokhran near Jaisalmer today.

Defence Minister A K Antony witnessed the hour-long live demonstration of IAF's ability to deliver the lethal punch.

IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal F H Major, Air Marshal K D Singh, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, South Western Air Command and Defence Secretary Vijay Singh were also present on the occasion.

Nearly 50 IAF fighter planes and helicopters including the Su-30 MKI, Mirage-2000, Mig-27 upgrade, Mig-27 ML, Mig-21 (Type-96) participated in the event. These were flown from airfields of Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Barmer, Bikaner, Agra and Gwalior.

The FPD was conducted in three phases. The first phase showcased the capability of fighter aircraft. The second phase was for 'counter-air operations' against airfield installations by fighter planes in their endeavour to suppress the enemy's air defence capability. The third phase included 'counter surface force operations' including 'battlefield interdiction' and 'battlefield air strike'.

A supersonic low-level run by a single Su-30 MKI at a speed of 1250 kmph, 150 metres above ground level leaving in its trail a thunderous ear-shattering sonic boom set the tempo for an explosive demonstration to follow. This was followed by two Mig-27 fighters carrying out a 'photo run' using the VICON-91 pods, used for gaining vital information about enemy disposition during hostilities.

This air-to-ground firing range in the Rajasthan desert is IAF'slargest air-to-ground weapons firing facility. The sprawling range in the arid Rajasthan desert is home to IAF's largest air-to-ground weapons firing facility which is minutes flying-time from Longewala, the famed location near the western Indian border where IAF pilots stopped on tracks a regiment of Pakistani T-59 tanks on December 5-6, 1971 with their devastating air-to-ground firing exploits from the Hunter aircraft.

In a maiden appearance of sorts at any FPD, the Mig-27 upgrade, an entirely indigenous project undertaken by the DRDO and HAL, transforming it into a formidable strike platform of the IAF, showed its mettle.

The FPD also saw the use of the versatile and veritable medium lift tactical transport aircraft, the AN-32, reconfigured for a bombing role. In a role reminiscent of the carpet bombings undertaken by AN-12 transport aircraft during the 1971 conflict, two AN-32s destroyed an enemy logistics camp with six 1,000-lb bombs each.


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