The sonic boom generated by the Sukhoi-30 and Jaguar strike fighters as they tear into the sky over the Andaman and Nicobar Islands gives one clear signal: India recognises the archipelago's strategic value and is ready to secure the international sea lanes converging towards the Malacca Straits.
The IAF base here, the country's last defence outpost in the eastern region, has now arisen like the mythical phoenix from the ashes, after being devastated by the gigantic tsunami on December 26.
"The fighter operations demonstrate the Carnic base is fully combat ready now...the IAF flag is flying high here once again," said a "proud" IAF chief Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi.
Grappling with the numbing loss of 116 lives of personnel and families, coupled with large-scale infrastructure damage, the IAF and Army worked round-the-clock to make the base fully operational in a short span of three months.
For instance, the repair work on the 8,790-feet runway, which was partly submerged by the waves, was completed during the nights, leaving the days open for relief flights.
Situated bang in the middle of the 572-island cluster spread over 720-km, the Carnic airbase virtually straddles one of the major trade routes of the globe.
"Two strategic waterways, the six and ten degree channels, pass through here. Moreover, 30% of India's Exclusive Economic Zone is around these islands," said A&N tri-service command chief Lt-Gen Aditya Singh.
The A&N Islands may be around 1,200 km away from Kolkata and Chennai but are just under 200 km from Myanmar. The Chinese military "listening" post at Coco Islands, leased by Myanmar, is in fact just 45 km away from the archipelago's northern tip.
Though the IAF has no immediate plans to base fighter squadrons at Carnic as of now, in addition to the existing Mi-8 helicopter squadron, it's fully confident of deploying fighters in the region in a jiffy if the need arises.
The four Jaguar maritime strike aircraft and two Sukhoi-30 "air superiority" fighters, after all, flew here for the combat exercises all the way from Pune and Bareilly.
"It took a six-hour sortie, with two mid-air refuellings from IL-78 tankers and some combat manoeuvres on the way, to reach here from Bareilly. It was tough being strapped in the cockpit for such a long time but well worth the effort," beamed a young Sukhoi pilot.