16 Feb : The Indian Air Force is set to carry out the second edition of Exercise DAKSHIN PRAHAR to validate the concept of flexi-use of airspace. Starting from February 18th under the aegis of the Southern Air Command (SAC), this week-long unique operational exercise has now become an annual feature. The exercise assumes significance in the wake of the successful conduct of Aero India 2009 held in Bangalore and reflects the ability of the IAF to sustain operations for a prolonged period of time.
State-of-the-art fighter aircraft such as Sukhoi 30 MKI, Mirage 2000 and upgraded versions of maritime Jaguar will take part in the exercise in order to cover the vast area of responsibility of the SAC which extends far and wide covering not only the peninsular airspace, but also the offshore installations on the east coast and Lakshadweep & Minicoy Islands in the South West. All the combat aircrafts are capable of air-to-air refuelling by the IL- 78s which are strategically positioned to increase the reach of fighters to go around the peninsula without refuelling. AN-32s, Avro and Mi-8 would provide vital transport support and perform communication duties during the exercise. The aircraft would practise modern tactics in carefully crafted corridor in coordination with the Airport Authority of India (AAI) so that civil and military air operations can be conducted smoothly and simultaneously.
According to Air Marshal S. Radhakrishnan, AOC-in-C, SAC the air exercises of this nature not only increases the operational preparedness of the IAF but also strengthens the process of coordination between the AAI and the IAF for handling and eventuality requiring use of combat air power at short notice.
Earlier, whenever major operational exercises were held by the IAF, tight restrictions were placed on the use of airspace. Such restrictions would have caused severe disruption in day-to-day air traffic in the booming civil aviation sector. Last year, when the exercise was conducted for the first time, the SAC and AAI displayed exemplary coordination with interaction at every level, joint-manship from the planning stage and successfully executed an intricate exercise across the length and breadth of peninsular India and also over Lakshadweep and Minicoy Islands. The exercise had drawn international attention due to its very nature and the fact that such an exercise was carried out at such a large scale.