IAF prepares for spectacular display as Rafale makes debut in Ex Vayu Shakti 2024

The inclusion of the Rafale, equipped with advanced weaponry such as the Mica air-to-air missile, Meteor long-range air-to-air missile, and Scalp air-to-ground missile, adds a new dimension to the IAF’s capabilities.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is gearing up for an extraordinary display of aerial prowess as it prepares to showcase its might during the upcoming Ex Vayu Shakti exercise. Set to take place on February 17th in Pokhran, Rajasthan, this year’s drill holds particular significance as it marks the debut of the Rafale fighter jet in the Indian skies.

The Rafale will demonstrate its capabilities by firing MICA missiles during the exercise in a first-of-its-kind demonstration. Vice Chief Air Marshal AP Singh, IAF, revealed that over 100 aircraft, including 77 fighter jets such as Tejas, Sukhoi, MiG-29, Mirage 200, and Jaguar, as well as 41 helicopters, and a variety of missiles and UAVs will participate in the exercise.

The exercise will showcase a wide array of precision and non-precision missiles, including air-to-air and surface-to-air guided missiles. Additionally, five military transport aircraft will be part of the exercise, contributing to the display of air power.

The Rafale, equipped with advanced weaponry such as the Mica air-to-air missile, Meteor long-range air-to-air missile, and Scalp air-to-ground missile, adds a new dimension to the IAF’s capabilities. With these formidable assets, the Rafale is hailed as one of the most potent fighter jets globally.

Ex Vayu Shakti, the IAF’s premier firepower demonstration exercise, traces its origins back to 1954 and showcases the IAF’s combat readiness and operational capabilities. Notably, the last edition of the exercise took place in 2019, preceding the historic Balakot air strike.

This year’s exercise will feature indigenous aircraft and missile systems, including the LCA Tejas firing the air-to-air missile R-73, and demonstrations of the Akash and Samar missile systems. Additionally, the deployment of Chinook heavy-lift helicopters, Apache attack helicopters, and indigenous Rudra helicopters underscores the IAF’s multi-dimensional combat capabilities.

The exercise will also highlight the integration of the IAF’s air command and control system, which serves as the backbone of operational coordination during complex missions. Special operations by IAF transport and helicopter fleets, involving Garud commandos and Indian Army elements, will further demonstrate the synergy between different branches of the armed forces.

With preparations in full swing, approximately 500-600 air warriors are set to participate in the exercise, with Air Bases across Rajasthan, including Jodhpur, Phalodi, Nal, Jaisalmer, Hindon, and Agra, fully activated. The issuance of NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) designating Rajasthan as a no-fly zone explains the seriousness of the exercise.

Under the theme of Nabhas Vajra Prahar, or thunderbolt strike from the sky, this year’s exercise will highlight the IAF’s ability to swiftly deploy UAVs in support roles, further enhancing its operational flexibility and effectiveness. With dignitaries including Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and possibly Prime Minister Narendra Modi expected to attend, Ex Vayu Shakti 2024 promises to be a spectacular showcase of India’s air power capabilities.