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IAF puts off its mega triennial drill after Ladakh standoff

A pivotal air exercise involving almost 200 aircraft will not be conducted this year. This decision comes in the backdrop of the Indian Air Force’s high-speed operations in the Ladakh sector, where IAF has been on its high alert for several months owing to border tensions with China, officials said on Saturday. 

Exercise Iron Fist is a triennial exercise conducted by the Indian Air Force. It is considered to be IAF’s biggest exercise. It was scheduled to be held at Rajasthan’s Pokhran test facility this month but it has been removed from the training schedule of the Air Force for the current year.  

An officer said that the decision to put off the exercise to possibly next year was guided by the need to conserve flying hours and equipment considering the IAF’s continuous deployment in the Ladakh theatre after border tensions with China began last May. 

Another officer said, “Iron Fist is an important exercise that allows us to showcase what IAF is capable of. It’s not being held this year as IAF has a really busy year in Ladakh.” 

The last edition of this exercise was held in 2016, where a total of 181 aircraft, including 103 fighter planes, 572 rockets, 81 bombs, and 9 missiles being fired, which included the indigenous Astra beyond-visual-range missile and the Akash missile. 

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