Sukhoi Su-30 MKI
The Sukhoi Su-30 MKI is heavy class, long-range, multi-role, air superiority fighter and strike fighter, in the Indian Air Force.Creative Commons/g4spE

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is gearing up for a mammoth exercise, Iron Fist 2016, that will demonstrate its combat and fire power at Pokhran in Rajasthan's Thar Desert on March 18, according to a press release

The IAF will field 181 aircraft from multiple bases that will "demonstrate a synchronised aerial ballet" which would include "the entire spectrum of aerial operations." 

The press release noted that Iron Fist 2016 would showcase the IAF's growth and will focus on the concept of an "all weather, network centric operations, precision weapon delivery and ability to deliver lethal firepower." 

The exercise will feature aerobatic display of Su-30 MKI, Sarang (helicopter display team with modified HAL Druv helicopters) and the Surya Kiran Aerobatic team. The live demonstration by the IAF Garuds and special heliborne operations will be the highlight of the event. 

India's indigenous multi-role fighter aircraft, the LCA Tejas, will also be part of the exercise and the public can see the aircraft firing the R-73, a short-range air-to-air missile of the Russian origin and the Griffin missiles, precision-guided munition from Raytheon, a U.S. defence company, IANS reported.

Meanwhile, IDRW reported that India's frontline air superiority fighter Su-30 MKI will test-fire the Astra missile. This follows the developmental and captive trials of the missile from the Su-30 MKI platform. 

The Astra, beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM), has a range of 60km and is developed indigenously by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). If this happens, then it will be the first time that public would be witnessing it. 

Speaking about the IAF showcasing its day-and-night capability in the exercise, the Vice Chief of Indian Air Force Air Marshal B.S. Dhanoa said: "This will be a display of the day-and-night capabilities of the Indian Air Force. We did not have this in the last decade. During the Kargil war, we did not have it," IANS reported. 

He further confirmed that the IAF has not invited the defence attaches of Pakistan and China, nevertheless, the event will see the participation of dignitaries and defence attaches of other countries. Elucidating on not inviting Pakistani and Chinese defence attaches, he said it was a "collective decision" involving the ministry of external affairs and the ministry of defence. 

President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be attending the exercise, along with a host of other dignitaries from the defence ministry and the IAF. 

The Iron Fist 2016 will be aired live on national television. The last such exercise was held three years ago in 2013.

Also read