IAF exercise shows India can send to battle double the number of fighter jets that Pakistan can


Mains Paper 3: Internal Security | Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the exercise

Mains level: The importance of the exercise and the issues discussed in the newscard.


Gagan Shakti: Ongoing training exercise of the Indian Air Force (IAF)

  1. The exercise has demonstrated that IAF can put out double the number of fighter aircraft in combat compared to the Pakistan Air Force
  2. IAF has achieved unprecedented serviceability levels of 80 per cent for its fighter aircraft during the exercise
  3. Exercise Gagan Shakti has also shown that the IAF can do long-range sorties where fighter aircraft taking off from bases in southern and western India can reach targets 3,000 km away, say inside Tibet

Credit goes to Engineers of the IAF

  1. According to Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa, “full credit goes to our engineers that we have built up the serviceability of fighter aircraft to 80%, compared to a target of 75%, and a dispatch reliability of more than 95% during Gagan Shakti exercise”
  2. High serviceability levels means a greater number of its fighter aircraft available for operations

Some important issues

  1. The IAF currently has 31 fighter squadrons against an authorisation of 42 squadrons
  2. Sources conceded that this shortfall remains a criticality because these high serviceability and dispatch reliability levels have been achieved after eight months of sustained effort
  3. It would be tough for IAF to replicate these numbers, if it is asked to go into combat on very short notice

Main focus of the exercise

  1. Exercise Gagan Shakti is not about learning tactical lessons but focused on checking logistics stamina to build up and sustain the high serviceability levels
  2. This physically validates the operating time and effort taken to rotate the fighter aircraft after it has made one sortie, fired all its weapons and turn them out again after loading them fully

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