The powerful indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas has proved its mettle at Indian Air Force’s largest-ever 14-day air exercise – Gagan Shakti 2018 which had started from 8 April 2018 to 22 April 2018.

The Indian Air Force conducted a maiden all-India air combat exercise with an aim to practice real-time coordination, testing and deployment of air power – and also showcase India’s air muscle prowess through Gagan Shakti 2018. Considered to be India’s largest ever air force exercise, the Indian Air Force showed its defence readiness during urgent warlike conditions. During the mega-show, the IAF conducted exercise for its entire war-fighting machinery to practice operations and war-waging capability. All types of combat missions, encompassing all air campaigns and fighter planes were conducted in two phase during the entire exercise.

But among the entire wartime machinery was the indigenously-manufactured Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas aircraft. Tejas is a supersonic, single-seat, single-engine multi-role light fighter jet that has been under development since 1983 by state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The aircraft successfully performed when it was put into war-like operations during Gagan Shakti 2018. An IAF official associated with the exercise monitoring said, “We did trials and validation of operational efficiency of LCA Tejas. We were able to generate six sorties per platform per day. In this exercise, we had deployed eight platforms.” On first day, six of the LCA Tejas aircrafts had reported “snag” but after being rectified, the aircraft outperformed throughout the exercise.

However, the IAF is worried about the slow-paced production of LCA Tejas which could make the armed force wait for longer time. Perhaps, the Gagan Shakti-2018 exercise was meant to teach and it was an excellent opportunity to practice its war time drills for the Indian Air Force. Generally such military practices are conducted to validate operational efficacy of new platforms and refine existing Standard Operating Procedures – but for India, it also meant proving its presence, prowess and strength in the defence sector.