Pokharan (Rajasthan), Feb 23 (IANS) Troops slithering down ropes in "enemy territory", transport aircraft flying low to evade radar in the combat zone and supersonic fighters smashing targets with precision missiles and rockets - the Indian Air Force's 'Iron Fist' firepower display in this desert expanse gave ample demonstration of its readiness to meet the country's security needs.
The assembled gathering Friday looked in awe and admiration as frontline planes and helicopters in the IAF's inventory displayed their flying and firing abilities.
Sorties followed in quick succession as 30 targets including "enemy" ammunition dumps, command and control centres, headquarters building, heavy guns, vital bridges and aircraft shelter" evaporated in heavy pounding.
While the day and dusk operations, including the dazzling acrobatic display by Sukhoi 30 MK I, had the gathering on the edge of their seats, the night events were spectacular.
A Mi-17 V5 helicopter moved IN to drop troops in the battle arena in darkness as another Mi-17 emerged to provide illumination for a search mission.
The Mi 17 helicopter's arclight, capable of lighting an area the size of a football field, hovered and directed its powerful beam on the battle arena as troops from another helicopter slithered down a rope to accomplish their "mission".
With concerns in the country over cross-border terrorism, an IAF officer told IANS that such missions can be carried out behind enemy lines if there is adequate air superiority.
"It can be done if there is adequate air over," the officer said.
The C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft also demonstrated its ability to operate behind "enemy lines" as it flew low to evade radar and dropped paratroopers and, after a quick about turn, picked them shot landing and taking off capabilities.
Over 225 fighter and transport aircraft including Mirage 2000, Jaguar 2000, MiG 27, MIG 21, MIG 29, C130J, AN-32, Embraer and the IL-76 and unmanned aerial vehicles participated in the event, firing rockets, missiles and bombs and laser guided weapons.
A MiG 29 aircraft created a sonic boom before the spectators as it crossed the speed of sound.
The indigenous light combat aircraft aircraft Tejas and light combat helicopter Rudra also showed their mettle. The IAF also displayed its latest acquisition - the PC-7 Pilatus trainer.
The IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne's son Squadran Leader Omar Browne was the co-pilot of one of the Sukhoi SU-30MKI combat jets that took part in the firepower demonstration.
The IAF also displayed the operational capability of the Pechora, Osa AK-M and IGLA range of surface-to-air missiles.
The Sarang helicopter team performed aerial acrobatics while the Akashganga parajumpers, the Air Warriors Drill Team had the gathering glued to their seats. The Air Warriors Symphony Orchestra played out soothing music.
President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Defence Minister A. K. Antony were among the leaders who witnessed the largest firepower demonstration of IAF. Military attaches of several countries were also present.
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