Indian Air Force exercise
Indian Air Force MIG 27 take part in an exerciseReuters

As neighbors Pakistan and China have been strengthening their diplomatic ties, Indian Air Force (IAF) is set to carry out massive combat exercises Sunday, April 8, onwards. Named Gaganshakti, this is said to be one of the biggest IAF exercises until now and will be held over a period of two weeks – April 8 to 22 -- across the country.

The IAF has planned these exercises to check its combat and operational preparedness, especially when it comes to dealing with threats from Pakistan and China. Gaganshakti will reportedly include almost all the assets of the IAF along with its fighter squadrons and will go on day and night.

"The aim of this exercise is real-time coordination, deployment, and employment of air power in a short and intense battle scenario," the IAF said in a statement, according to the Press Trust of India.

"This exercise will hone the warfighting skills of the air warriors in a real-time scenario thus affirming IAF's role as the cutting edge of our nation's military capability," the IAF added.

The official also revealed that Pakistan has already been informed of the exercise as per protocol and the process will help India build new strategies with a focus on newly-acquired assets and arms.

The exercise will be held in multiple phases. The first one will focus on northern borders of the country, while the second will cover war-preparedness along the western borders.

Apart from the assets of the forces, IAF will also focus on its coordination with the Indian Navy and the Army. With the navy, the focus will be on the use of airspace and joint operations, while the IAF will work with the army for mass casualty evacuation from highways and other search and rescue operations.

"While it is an IAF centric exercise, it is planned to be executed keeping in mind the 'Joint Operational Doctrine'. The requirements of the other services are being met and the same has been factored while planning the exercise settings," the IAF added.

Not just the IAF, the navy has also been planning a few sea exercises with the United States off the Indian coast, including the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The two nations also plan to get Japan on board these exercises and the Australian Navy too may soon join.

INS Vikramaditya
Soviet-built Kiev-class Indian carrier INS Vikramaditya.Indian Navy

The plan is known to have come up when Indian defense secretary Sanjay Mitra's visited the Pentagon in March.

China-Pakistan ties

China and Pakistan have been working on strengthening their ties and Beijing is even set to launch two satellites for Pakistan in June. Pakistan had earlier also said that China would soon acquire a Pakistani military base near the Chabahar port in Iran.

According to a report in the Washington Times, China has been discussing this military base with Pakistan and intends to build a second overseas base to aid its maritime potential. If the deal goes through, the new facility will come up at Jiwani, which is close to the Iran border on the Gulf of Oman.

The facility is likely to have a Chinese naval and air base and this will aid the nation's efforts to enter the Arabian Sea.