The Army and Indian Air Force (IAF) will unite for the joint land and air exercise titled 'Desert Strike' in the scorching deserts of Thar, on November 18, and put to test its latest firepower, strike and logistics capability.
The exercise will be a first of its kind, as the Army will be showcasing its concept of 'Network Centric Warfare', which revolves around the "key elements of synergisation and co-ordination of a vast array of sensors like radars, electro optical devices, thermal images and UAV's through the Battlefield Surveillance System (BSS)".
The system serves to increase battlefield transparency as also optimize ' sensors to shooter' links, thereby generating higher precision in weapons delivery and lethal degradation of the enemy.
The exercise will be witnessed by 24 observers of 16 friendly countries from the immediate and strategic neighbourhood and 39 Defence Attaches posted in India, another first of its kind.
"Most of the observers coming for the exercise are in the rank of Lt. Col, Colonel and Brigadier. China is coming for the exercise, but Pakistan has not been invited. US, UK, Russia, all have been invited," said an Army official.
The exercise, which is held in a cycle of two years, began on November 11 and will continue till 20, but the actual execution, involving strikes and manoeuvres in actual battlefield conditions is yet to begin.
The exercise involves mechanized corps, artillery, air defence, special forces, reconnaissance and air support by the IAF. The weapons include T-72 tanks, missile firing T-90 tanks (Bhishma), all weather Defence Gun Missile System, Searcher UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), Bofors guns, and Chetak and MI-17 helicopters from Army Aviation for para forces.
The IAF's hardware include, the Mirage-2000 fighter jets, MiG-27s, MiG-21 Bisons, Jaguars, Mi-35 Attack helicopters and An-32 for logistics and para dropping. The IAF is also using a plethora of ammunition in its armoury in the exercise, like Precision Guided Munitions (PGMs), cluster bombs, Anti-Tank Missiles (Shtrum) and rockets.
Sukhois, IAF officers said, was not involved in the operations because it was going through some trials and tests, adding that once that got over, it would be inducted in all the exercises.
"Sukhoi is, and will be one of the major inventories for the IAF," said an IAF officer.
The targets, officials said involved the neutralisation of armoured regiments, ground forces, command centres and 'Logistics Camp', adding that Ex-Desert Strike was aimed at integration of all the tri-services, but here it was limited to the Army and the IAF.
"Exercise Desert Strike like all other exercises, revolves around OODA concept, which stands for Observations, Orientation, Decision and finally Action," said Brigadier Bal, while briefing the media.
"The Army's night fighting capabilities, had seen a quantum jump, and Ex-Desert Strike will also witness the army's prowess at night fighting," he added.
The exercise organized by the South Western Command of the IAF and Southern Command of the Army will involve as many as 25, 000 Army troops (one corp). For the IAF, the whole of Jaisalmer Air Station along with fighter fleet from Agra and other places will be mobilised in the exercise.