Indian Air Force prepares for largest ever 'war-games' exercise

By Gautam Datt


The Indian Air Force (IAF) has got into war-game mode from Saturday as all its bases from Leh to Car Nicobar were activated signaling the launch of 'Live Wire' - the biggest air exercise in six years. Over the next couple of weeks, the IAF will practice an entire gamut of conflict situations throwing in the elements from the army and the navy as part of "jointness" manoeuvres.

IAF sources said the entire fleet of fighters, transporters, helicopters and force multipliers in the form of AWACS - better known as eye in the sky - mid-air refuellers and C-130J long-endurance special forces aircraft are being used in the extensive exercise. All the operational formations are at the centre of the exercise, utilising all their assets, including the entire range of fighter jets from MiG-21s to Su-30 MKIs.

The exercise of this scale is held after every five to six years but this edition is the biggest so far considering the fact that the IAF has also grown since 2007 when the last such operation took place.

The entire range of fighters from MiG-21s to Su-30 MKIs will take part in the exercise

The entire range of fighters from MiG-21s to Su-30 MKIs will take part in the exercise

The exercise will have different stages and will also involve live firing in certain ranges. Though planned more than a year ago, it's a coincidence that the exercise is taking place at a time when India-Pakistan relations are passing through rough patch.

The IAF is passing through a transition phase as it is changing rapidly in its outlook and concepts. The air operations are now transmitted real time through IAF's own air force communication network Af-Net.


The IAF is looking forward to induct the planes it has ordered. It is looking to get 126 new multi-role combat jets for which price negotiations are underway with French aircraft maker Dassault for Rafale fighters.

major air bases

It has also lined up purchases of Chinook heavy lift helicopters and Apache attack helicopters. The transport fleet will see induction of super heavy C-17 Globemasters, 10 of which were ordered recently.

The first C-17 is due to be inducted later this year. While much is in the offing, the current fleet is dependent on Su-30 MKI as its top of the line combat jet backed by old warhorse, Mig-21s, Jaguars and Mirage 2000s.

The current state of affairs might not be perfect but the underlining point is that the force is under transition. Live Wire closely follows fire power demonstration held by IAF last month in Pokhran in the exercise named Iron Fist. This is an year of exercises for the IAF.

After Iron Fist and Live Wire, an IAF team will prepare to leave for Red Flag exercise in the US, which is also taking place after a gap of five years.

The officials said the purpose of the exercise was to validate concepts of air combat capability. The force level drill will be held in every command in fully network-centric operations under the supervision of the air headquarter.


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