The Indian Air Force (IAF) is conducting March 18 a massive combat drill, Exercise Iron Fist 2016, and it will be aired live on Doordarshan (DD). The exercise will demonstrate the combat and firepower of the IAF at the Air Force Firing Range, Pokhran, in Rajasthan's Thar desert.
This mammoth exercise will see the IAF fielding 181 aircraft from multiple bases to demonstrate "synchronised aerial ballet" and showcase the "entire spectrum of aerial operations," said a statement. It will also include combat manoeuvres and live firing of air-to-ground and air-to-air precision weapons by fighters, transport aircraft and helicopters.
Exercise Iron Fist 2016 will showcase the IAF's concept of "all-weather, network-centric operations, precision weapon delivery and ability to deliver lethal firepower."
The public will be able to witness for the first time on national television the firepower abilities of LCA Tejas, the indigenous multi-role fighter aircraft. The firing of R-73, a short-range air-to-air missile, and Griffin missiles from the single-jet engine fighter aircraft will also be seen, IANS reported.
The frontline air-superiority fighter of the IAF, Su-30 MKI, will fire Astra missiles for the first time in public view. Astra missiles are Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)-developed beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles (BVRAAMs) with an operational range of 80 km.
Another first for the public will be the firing of the Akash missile system. They are mobile surface-to-air missiles indigenously developed by the DRDO. The missile has a range of 30 km. These missile systems are operational with the IAF and more recently with the Indian Army.
The Ministry of Defence confirmed in a tweet Monday participation of Hindustan Aeronautical Limited's (HAL) indigenous Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) following successful completion of 70mm rocket-firing. The HAL LCH is an indigenous combat helicopter in the 5.5-tonne class.
Exercise Iron Fist 2016 will showcase day-and-night capability of the IAF as well. It will also feature aerobatic display of Su-30 MKI, Sarang (helicopter display team with modified HAL Druv helicopters) and the Surya Kiran Aerobatic team.The exercise will also demonstrate IAF Garuds and special heliborne operations.
President Pranab Mukherjee has confirmed his attendance at the biennial event. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha and several other dignitaries from other countries, including defence attachés, will also be present.
However, the IAF, in consultation with Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Defence, have not extended invitation to the defence attachés of Pakistan and China.
There will be live coverage of Exercise Iron Fist 2016 on Doordarshan from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. (IST) Friday, March 18. Interested can watch the exercise live online on the official DD website and on its official YouTube page.
The IAF posted on its website the event would be webcast live on www.indianairforce.nic.in.