GUWAHATI: In a show of India’s military might, Sukhoi jets on Thursday carried out a massive bombing exercise on the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border.The fighter jets carpet-bombed a firing range as part of ‘Gaganshakti-2018’, the Indian Air Force’s biggest exercise in recent times. A similar exercise was carried out recently on the country’s western front. The drills on Thursday were overseen by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Air Chief Marshall BS Dhanoa.
“The exercise has shown that we are capable of overpowering our enemies. India’s pride has increased through this exercise. Our air warriors have demonstrated their ability, precision and readiness,” Sitharaman told reporters.“The exercise has also shown that the IAF can reach the north-east from any part of the country within two hours, fully prepared. Heavy vehicles landed in front of me at the advanced landing ground (ALG) at Pasighat (in Arunachal Pradesh). Thus, we have achieved our access to the remotest part of the country,” she said.
Earlier, the Defence Minister flew on an Mi-17 chopper to go to Pasighat ALG from the IAF base at Chabua in Assam. At Pasighat, she witnessed the take-off of two SU-30 jets and the landing of a C130 jet, from which Garud Commandos simulated taking over the base. Sitharaman, who also witnessed the bombing drill, was briefed on the uploading of rockets on an Mi gunship.
The IAF chief said: “We have shown our capability of operating from a wide variety of bases in the north-east…We need to expand the ALG in Pasighat so that we can get flights from Calcutta. It is not a question of the IAF operating there but to also provide aerial connectivity to people in the north-east”.