Indian Air Force’s ‘Gagan Shakti’ Exercise Is A Stark Warning To Both China And Pakistan. Here’s Why!

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2:56 pm 17 Apr, 2018


Displaying its prowess to tackle aerial, land and sea-based threats, the Indian Air Force’s Gagan Shakti 2018 exercise’ is the largest one that the country has seen in the last three decades.


More than 1,100 aircrafts including over 500 fighter jets have taken part in this exercise, clocking more than 6,000 hours in just three days. The aim of this exercise was to prepare the IAF for war and test its abilities by simulating a war-like situation.



The exercise demonstrated that the IAF can put out double the number of fighter aircraft in combat compared to the Pakistan Air Force, should the situation arise. During the exercise, the IAF achieved unprecedented serviceability levels of 80 per cent for its fighter aircraft.

Despite the severe crunch in modernization and procurement, the IAF was able to shift bases and assets in less than 48 hours from the western front to the eastern front.

The IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh ’Tony’ Dhanoa, said that all training activities within the force will remain suspended till April 22. Usually, during the wartime, the training drill activities are suspended.



In an exclusive interview with Indian Express, the Air Chief said:

“Full credit goes to our engineers that we have built up the serviceability of fighter aircraft to 80%, compared to a target of 75%, and a dispatch reliability of more than 95% during Gagan Shakti exercise. these numbers were significant as they demonstrated IAF’s capability to overwhelm the Pakistan Air Force by bringing double their number of fighter aircraft in combat, and that too with significantly higher throw weight. At 70% serviceability for its 371 fighter jets, Pakistan Air Force is estimated to be able to bring approximately 260 aircraft into combat but they have lesser stamina and capability than their IAF counterparts. We are flying a lot of sorties and dropping a lot of bombs. So in that sense — borrowing a phrase from a Rand monograph — I would say we really are shaking the heavens and splitting the Earth.”



The Chief also said that Pakistan is closely watching the IAF’s exercise through their AWACS systems and that China is also keeping a strict watch. The exercise has been ongoing on smoothly without any major glitches. Several fighter jets like Sukhoi 30 MKI, Tejas and the British Hawk advanced jet trainers took part in it.


With regard to China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), the IAF was to observe the PLAAF from dispersed locations, thereby reducing the probability of it being hit by Chinese missile strikes.

Some defence analysts said that the exercise is not about learning tactical lessons but about checking logistics to build up and sustain the high serviceability levels.