NEW DELHI: The IAF on Monday kicked off a major combat training exercise along the China-Pakistan fronts in the northern and western sectors, activating fighters to surface-to-air guided weapons, even as Army units also conduct high-altitude drills in eastern Ladakh and the Arunachal-Sikkim sector.
The “Trishul” exercise of the Western Air Command (WAC), the frontline IAF command responsible for a huge area stretching from Ladakh to Rajasthan, comes at a time when India is all set to host the G-20 summit this weekend, while the tense military confrontation with China in eastern Ladakh is also into its fourth year now.
The aim of the 10-day Trishul exercise is to check the WAC’s overall combat readiness. “All combat assets, ranging from fighters like Rafales, Jaguars, MiG-29s and Sukhoi-30MKIs and transport aircraft like C-130Js and C-17s to surface-to-air guided weapons (SAGWs) like S-400s, MR-SAMS and Akash have been deployed for the annual exercise,” a source said.
There will be a “slight operational pause” in the high-intensity air exercise during the G-20 summit in New Delhi on September 9-10. The IAF has already deployed a wide array of aircraft, radars and SAGWs, to make the airspace over the Delhi-National Capital Region as impregnable as possible for the conclave, as was earlier reported by TOI.
Concurrently, units from the Army’s two China-specific mountain strike corps (1 Corps and 17 Corps), which each have around 70,000 soldiers and heavy weaponry for high-altitude warfare, are training in their “designated operational areas” in batches. “Units from 1 Corps and 17 Corps undertake deployments and conduct exercises along the entire 3,488-km Line of Actual Control every summer,” a source said.
While the 1 Corps (headquarters at Mathura) is now geared towards the northern sector the LAC, instead of its earlier role on the western front with Pakistan, the 17 Corps (Panagarh) concentrates on a strike role in the eastern sector, including the Chumbi Valley opposite Sikkim.
There are as yet no signs of de-escalation in the confrontation in eastern Ladakh, with China not even agreeing to troop disengagement at the strategically-located Depsang Bulge and at the Charding Ninglung Nallah (CNN) track junction near Demchok. The face-off has seen both sides deploy over 50,000 soldiers each, along with heavy weaponry like tanks, artillery guns and SAGWs, since May 2020.

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