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IAF tested capability to handle nuke warfare during mega exercise

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LCA Tejas taking part in the Gagan Shakti exercise of the IAF which concluded on April 22. Photo: IAF/Twitter

NEW DELHI (PTI): The Indian Air Force tested its capability in dealing with a possible scenario of nuclear and biological warfare during a 13-day-long mega military exercise whose aim was to sharpen its war waging capability in the wake of fast evolving regional security situation.

Official sources said the focus of the Gagan Shakti exercise from April 8 to 20 was to check the viability of IAF's operational plans to deal with any kind of challenge including nuclear warfare and a possible situation of a two-front war with China and Pakistan.

A major focus of the exercise was to check combat capability of the indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas and their performance was satisfactory, IAF sources said.

They said eight Tejas were deployed during the exercise and some of these had reported minor technical issues, adding each of the six Tejas had flown six sorties daily like any other platforms including Sukhoi, Mirage 2000 and MiG 29 jets.

In a statement, the IAF said the drill provided an excellent opportunity to practice the force's war time drills and undertake operations in realistic scenario.

"Activities were undertaken in a cohesive manner to achieve the stated objectives of the Indian Air Force, in case of any contingency," it said, adding the exercise also enabled the force to validate operational efficacy of new platforms.

The IAF said all qualified and medically fit crew up to 48 years of age were made "proficient" by giving them re-validation training on combat assets.

The sources said aim of the exercise was to test IAF's combat readiness in a real time scenario, adding it had never carried out an exercise of this scale earlier.

A key focus of the exercise was to check IAF's readiness to deal with a biological, chemical and nuclear war and we were satisfied with our capability to deal with such situations, they said.

They also said all types of aerial weapons, including standoff and precision weapons were deployed to validate their use in the air operations matrix.

As part of the massive drill, the IAF deployed its entire assets for the pan-India exercise with fighter jets, equipped with strategic weapons like BRAHMOS and Harpoon anti-ship missiles, carrying out deep penetration strikes to revalidate its strategic reach.

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