President, PM witness IAF firepower display


Pokharan (Rajasthan): The Indian Air Force (IAF) Friday displayed its firepower at the “Iron Fist” exercise at Rajasthan’s Pokhran ranges with a potent show of the strength of its frontline aircraft witnessed by President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and a host of dignitaries.

“The focus of day-dusk-night offensive operation ‘Iron Fist’ was building 24×7 operational capability,” the IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne said.

His son, Squadran Leader Omar Browne, along with Wing Commander Karulkar, demonstrated breathtaking manoeuvres in a Sukhoi SU-30MKI combat jet.

The IAF also displayed its latest acquisition – the PC-7 Pilatus trainer – and a remotely piloted aircraft.

The firepower demonstration also saw striking manoeuvres by the indigenously-produced light combat aircraft and helicopters.

The “day-dusk-night” firepower display saw aircraft using laser-guided bombs and precision rockets to hit “enemy targets”.

Exercise “Iron Fist” saw the participation of 230 aircraft, including the Mirage-2000, Jaguar, MiG-21, MiG-27, MiG-29 and the Hawk advanced jet trainer (AJT) destroying targets in “enemy territory” in a concerted display that lasted almost four hours.

The indigenously developed light combat aircraft Tejas and light combat helicopter Rudra also performed combat manoeuvres.

The IAF also displayed the operational capability of the Pechora, Osaakan and IGLA range of surface to air misiles.

Also seen were the C1-30J Super Hercules and AN-32 transporters, the Mi-8 and Mi-17 medium-lift helicopters and the Mi-35 attack helicopters.

The Sarang helicopter team performed aerial ballets and acrobatics while the Akashganga parajumpers, air warriors drill team and symphony orcehestra also performed.

“It was first firepower display in which all aircraft in the IAF inventory took part,” said an officer.

It’s not often that the prime minister witnesses such an event when parliament is in session and the fact that he was at Pokhran served as a great morale booster, an officer said.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony, Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne, Indian Navy chief Admiral D.K. Joshi, former defence minister Jaswant Singh, Rajasthan Governor Margaret Alva and Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot were among the large number of people present on the occasion.