Tejas, Astra missile to be showcased at IAF’s firepower demo

New Delhi, March 10 (IANS) Indigenous Light Combat Aircraft Tejas, which won appreciation at the Bahrain Air Show putting India on the global map for aircraft manufacturing, will now be showcasing its firepower at the Indian Air Force’s Firepower Demonstration – Iron Fist.

Tejas, a single-jet engine, multi-role light fighter developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, will be seen firing Russian R-73 missiles and Laser Guided Bombs at the exercise which will be held at Pokhran in the Thar desert on March 18.

The exercise will be attended by President Pranab Mukherjee and, according to sources, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will also be present.

One squadron of the fighter, which the IAF expects will get operational clearance soon, is expected to be inducted in the force later this year.

Also on public display for the first time will be the Astra air-to-air missile, being developed by DRDO, and the Akash missile system which will fire the Akash missile in public view for the first time.

Iron Fist 2016 will see the participation of 181 aircraft, 103 of which are fighter planes.

The demonstrations include firing of lethal ordnance, combat and combat support demonstrations.

“This will be a display of the day-and-night capabilities of the Indian Air Force. We did not have this in the last decade. During the Kargil war, we did not have it,” Vice Chief of Indian Air Force Air Marshal B.S. Dhanoa said at a press conference here.

“It will showcase our ability to deter aggression,” he said.

The IAF also highlighted that the exercise, that was being held after three years, was being held within the annual training budget of the force.

Meanwhile, even as the event is set to see presence of several dignitaries, including defence attaches from various countries, the IAF confirmed that Pakistan and China have not been invited.

The defence attaches of Pakistan and China have not been invited to the Indian Air Force’s power demonstration exercise Iron Fist, the IAF said on Thursday.

“We have invited defence attaches but not those of Pakistan and China,” Dhanoa said.

He said this was a “collective decision of MEA (ministry of external affairs) and MOD (ministry of defence)” to leave out the defence attaches of the two countries from the mega exercise.

The last Iron Fist held in 2013 was the Indian Air Force’s first day-night exercise, and more than 100 aircraft and 30 different weapon platforms were showcased.

The exercise is aimed at displaying network-centric operations capabilities of the Indian Air Force.

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