Stunning visuals have been accessed of the Indian Air Force (IAF) undertaking mid-air refuelling of fighter aircraft as part of the Gagan Shakti-2018 exercise.
In the video above, the Su30 aircraft can be seen being refuelled in mid-air by an IL 78.
Mid-air refuelling has the potential to change the dynamics of war. It would allow an aircaft to take off from south India and engage in military operations in the north-east! The longest flight during the recently concluded exercise was an incredible six hours, versus the sub-4 hours regular range of the Su30.
The pan-India Gangan Shakti-2018 exercise was held from April 8 to 22, its aim being real-time coordination, deployment and employment of air power in a short and intense battle scenario.
During Gagan Shakti-2018, lAF exercised its entire war fighting machinery to validate its concept of operations and war-waging capability. The focus of the exercise was to check the viability of our operational plans and learn meaningful lessons.
The exercise was conducted in two phases so that all Commands get adequate opportunity to test the efficacy of their preparedness. Phase-I of the exercise involved activation of Western, South Western and Southern Air Commands, with affiliated Army and Naval components. Phase-II of the exercise involved activation of Western, Central, Eastern and Southern Air Commands. Re-deployment for Phase-II involved relocating the forces so as to be effective at the new Iocations within a short span of 48 hours. This was made possible by round the clock operations of heavy lift transport aircraft like C-17 and IL-76 as well as by employing a large number of tactical airlift aircraft like C-130 and An-32 aircraft. IAF also used civil chartered flight and trains for mobilisation of resources.
During the exercise, all types of combat missions, encompassing all air campaigns, were conducted. Fighter aircraft undertook surge operations i.e. generating maximum number of sorties in a 24 hours cycle. These included long-range missions with concentrated live and simulated weapon releases across all air to ground ranges in India, creation of Air Defence umbrella to facilitate operation of ground forces and Counter Surface Force Operations in support of Army in various sectors, during both phases Maritime Operations involving long-range maritime strikes with Maritime Reconnaissance support by Indian Navy aircraft were also practiced. The efficacy and integration of indigenous LCA aircraft and Akash Missile system in the operational matrix of the IAF was also tested. In addition, capabilities of upgraded Mirage-2000 and MiG-29 aircraft were tested for the first time in an operational environment. All types of aerial weapons, including standoff and precision weapons were employed to validate their use in the Air Operations Matrix.
During the exercise, more than 11000 sorties were flown, which include approx 9000 sorties by fighter aircraft.