The latest war game exercise conducted by India has attracted much praise throughout the world and even from some unlikely quarters. Gagan Shakti is the IAF’s most recent war-exercise and the biggest one till date. IAF wanted to showcase its logistical and operational capabilities and the war readiness for purposes of power projection and to find out areas where improvements can be made.
The war exercise happened at the bordering area India shares with China, thus it was indeed a bit surprising when the state run Chinese media praised Indian Air Force’s capabilities, albeit grudgingly.
In China, media reports have to be vetted by the government, thus any comment coming from media can be attributed to the state’s point of view of that particular matter.
A report in a leading news aggregator Zhaizao declares the sheer difficulty in successfully completing a war exercise of this magnitude and also only a handful of country like U.S have in the past completed such simulated war exercises with Air Force assets. They also pointed out that if the claimed number of 1,100 air assets being involved in the Gagan Shakti exercise is to be believed then Russia and China should reassess its take on India’s aerial offensive and defensive capabilities.
India has incorporated hundreds of Su-30MKIs and MiG-21s, MiG 27s, Jaguars and MiG 29s, including Navy MiG-29Ks, LCA fighters alongside transport aircraft of various sizes besides helicopters and three stage readiness indicators namely arming-detection- refueling aircraft in the giant exercise which is said to be a “demonstration of the development results of the past 10 years”.
Commenting on Gagan Shakti Retired Vice-Marshall, IAF Kapil Kak stated-
“In terms of scale, magnitude, time-frame, geography and nature of activation of every component of IAF’s fighting machine, Gagan Shakti 2018 is a monumental one where the entire range of IAF assets including light, medium, heavy variants of various aircraft are being used. It is clearly the simulation of a ‘swift, intense and short’ two-front conflict. It is not just an exercise but an actual real-time simulation of a war,”
By this report it’s clear that China is fairly surprised at Indian Air force’s capabilities and it won’t be far-fetched to observe that China is awe-struck. India has been acquiring and building its defensive and offensive capabilities with strong emphasis on capacity both logistically and technically. It is this slow but steady capacity building that has somewhat unsettled the Chinese who would rather see India’s defense capabilities diminished and its establishment being stranded in internal problems.
The report translated from Mandarin, stated – “We cannot but affirm India’s progress in these years’ progress. In 2008, the Indian military had announced that the operational availability rate of its domestic Su-30MKI was only 50 per cent, and that after 10 years, it actually reached 90 per cent of the time it could be dispatched…This shows that the Indian military has strengthened its emphasis on maintenance work and other logistic tasks”.
It is said that no war can be won with only on the basis of manpower it is the logistics and the ability to provide the men at the front with essential supplies that wins wars. Thus, it is of utmost importance for a state to have very well organized logistical apparatus that can be up and ready in a moment’s notice. The fact that about 10,000 ground support personnel working together and more than 3,000 air sorties were being planned indicates that India has reached that desired logistical efficiency which is needed to have an edge over our adversaries. The report commented on this logistical competency by stating – “It also shows that IAF has established a complete logistics system”.
One of the main objectives of Gagan Shakti was to evaluate IAF’s competency in a war that is “short, intense and swift”. As, the wars of the future are more likely to be short and intense in nature with the world reaching new technical highs everyday and becoming more and more multi-polar than ever before the concept of a lengthy and costly war is becoming obsolete day by day. IAF showed the world that India is more than ready to face any challenges come what may.