In a first, IAF conducts special operations over country’s highest dam

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The Indian Air Force (IAF) for the first time carried out duck drops, a parachute operation, of military boats and special forces over the country’s highest dam for drills to use waterbodies to infiltrate into enemy territory and launch attacks on their bases.

The reservoir of the Tehri dam in Uttarakhand was used for the exercise by the Air Forces sword arm western air command for simulating a waterbody acting as a border between India and its neighbouring countries, like the Pangong lake on the India-China border.

During the war game, the Air Force used its C-130J Super Hercules from the Hindon airbase which first dropped a rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB) followed by a team of Garud commandos who used the waterbody to launch attacks on enemy bases to make inroads into their areas, government sources said.

In the largest ever war games conducted by the IAF Gagan Shakti almost half the effort has been put in by the western air command, which covers areas from Siachen glacier with Pakistan and Eastern Ladakh in the north to the western deserts in Rajasthan.

During the war games conducted close to the borders with China, the command extensively used its fleet for rapid deployment of troops from one valley to another.

In one such drill on Thursday, a fleet of eight Mi-17V5 medium-lift helicopters was used to rapidly deploy troops close to the Nyoma airbase, a few kilometres from China border in Ladakh and Tangste valley at an altitude of 13,500 feet, the sources said.

The war game was conducted to practice situations on the China border to fight a close battle with enemy forces at high altitudes. During the drill, the Air Force also used C-130J Super Hercules to drop the special forces at low heights to the ground in a window of 30 seconds to a minute for hiding from enemy radars.

The transport planes and helicopters were given protection by the MiG-29 air defence fighters to thwart any attack by enemy planes during the exercise.

In another high-voltage operation, the Gaggal airport near Dharamshala was simulated as an enemy disused advanced landing ground in the border to capture it and use it for launching attacks.

To use the disused airfield to send across more troops into the enemy territory, the small team of 14 heavily armed Garud commandos first neutralised the enemy guards based there under the cover of darkness and then signaled the troops at the rear to enter and launch attacks, the sources said.

The entire attack was carried out at around dawn to catch the enemy by surprise and within 30 minutes, the whole airfield was sanitised. The Garuds then used a high-tech communication equipment to signal the C-130Js and Antonov-32s, which were waiting with troops in them at another airfield in own territory, to start.

After getting a green signal from the ground, the C-130J immediately took off to carry out an assault landing at the captured airbase and drop maximum possible troops there.

The drills would help the forces to be better prepared for tackling similar situations in the future. During the drills, the Air Force also carried out landing and takeoff of its planes such as the Su-30MKI and the rest of the fleet from the new advanced landing grounds prepared by the force in Arunachal Pradesh and other areas in the northeastern states.

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