The Indian Air Force showcased its combat and firepower during ‘Iron Fist Exercise 2016’ in Pokhran, putting on display the firepower of indigenous fighter plane ‘Tejas’ for the first time.
In attendance at the event were President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, apart from Indian army chief General Dalbir Singh, Navy chief Admiral RK Dhowan, senior defence officers and defence attaches of several countries. Also on public display for the first time was the Astra air-to-air missile, being developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation, and the Akash missile.
“This demonstration is the tip of an iceberg when compared to the overall capability of the air force,” Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha said on the occasion. Raha, who is Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, said the three armed forces were fully geared up for joint operations. “I assure the nation’s leadership that the army, navy and the air force are fully geared up to conduct integrated operations at the tactical, operational and strategic levels,” he said.
“Future conflicts will witness extensive conduct of joint operations,” the IAF chief said.
Meanwhile, those present at the event were in for a surprise as a sonic boom welcomed them at the beginning of the exercise when a MiG-29 broke the sound barrier. The indigenous Light Combat Aircraft ‘Tejas’ fired laser-guided bombs and R-73 missile, impressing the crowd watching on the ground. ‘Iron Fist Exercise 2016’ will see the participation of 181 aircraft, 103 of them fighter planes.
Other exercises include firing of lethal ordnance as well as combat and combat support demonstrations.The last such exercise held in 2013 was the IAF’s first day-night exercise, in which more than 100 aircraft and 30 different weapon platforms were showcased.The exercise is aimed at displaying network-centric operations capabilities of the Indian Air Force.