Military & Aerospace

Indian Airborne Troops Script History
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 25 Apr , 2016

On the eve of April 22, 2016, at Bamanwali, 60 km from Nal Air Field near Suratgarh, the Indian Army and the Air Force displayed highest levels of joint-man-ship. The Agra based 50 Para Brigade created a history by conducting an Air Assault that involved 1900 paratroopers, one Infantry Combat Vehicle, three 105mm field guns and a Mobile Surgical hospital. The elements of this brigade group were air lifted from four different mounting bases in the Western sector, Agra, Bhatinda, Jodhpur and Suratgarh. This was the first time when such a force was air dropped.

The Indian Air Force employed three Russian made IL-76 and fourteen AN-32s. Their latest in inventory, the American Globe Master, C-17 and the Hercules, C-130 were also put to test. This manoeuvre was carried out simulating a 100 km deep strike air assault intended in the heartland of Pakistan, an aim being to secure the projection area.

In an eventuality of a conflict with Pakistan, the elite strike corps like the Mathura based 1 Corps, has the potential to split the enemy in to two, by carrying out a surgical strike. The Pivot Corps would provide firm bases to launch such a strike. The Strike Corps’ infantry components would capture tactical areas on the multi-tier obstacles (irrigation canals) on the Pakistani side at a lightning speed. This would facilitate the breaking out of the armour and mechanised columns, thus unleashing terror in the heart of Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Simultaneously the airborne troops would have secured a projection area where these inducted Mechanised forces would consolidate. This action by the Indian Army would invite and draw in both the enemy’s Army Reserves, South and the North, thus nearly an assured complete annihilation of Pakistan Army in tank vs tank battles.

The Indian Military might at display, in the largest ever war game, “Shatrujeet”, being conducted on these lines in the deserts of Rajasthan is unprecedented by all measures. With 36000 troops conducting war manoeuvres in this simmering heat, India has sent across a strong message to Raheel Sharif, his army and the Rawalpindi bred Jihadis.

Speaking to the officers of the Military Operation’s branch on the side lines was really very reassuring, their confidence was speaking by itself. They informed that the capability to air drop a formation existed only with the countries like the US, Russia and China. India has now joined this elite club. This airborne exercise has validated the IL-76 better than the American machines in use. The Air Headquarter after this event is now considering to enhance the operational service of the Russian IL-76 which was otherwise drawing to an end in the next three years, they added.

At the question of the recent threat by General Raheel Sharif, of using a tactical nuclear weapon in response to our Cold Start. And the possibility of such a use by the Pakistan Army on these Air Borne troops securing the Projection Area, say in general area of Bahawalpur and Multan. These officers informed, that any land where the Indian Army soldier sets foot, is a deemed Indian territory. Any misadventure by the Pakistan Army of even showing an intent of using a nuclear weapon, let alone the use, would invite a prompt and a heavy response unbearable by the enemy wiping it out off the map of the world.

This capability displayed by the Indian Armed forces could also be put to use for ‘Out of Area Contingencies’ in assistance of friendly foreign countries, during a natural calamity when the lines of communications are completely destroyed or force projection in the archipelago and the Indian Ocean littorals along with the Indian Navy and Amphibious troops.

These are the initial symptoms of a super power in the making.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Danvir Singh

Associate Editor, Indian Defence Review, former Commanding Officer, 9 Sikh LI and author of  book "Kashmir's Death Trap: Tales of Perfidy and Valour".

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11 thoughts on “Indian Airborne Troops Script History

  1. The real issue is of “Force Projection”. How far ? How much ? in what time frame ? and for How Long? Doing these exercise within the country are fine and good media exercise. The Air Force is more media savvy than the Army. Lets look beyond the shores of India and lets template what we do here in the Deserts of Rajasthan beyond the shores of India. Gloating over the acquisition of a few C-130s and C-17 does not foot the bill of projecting ourselves. War is a different issue and rescue operations are different and we shouldn’t try to mix up our capabilities on that. It would take 54 An-32 aircraft to launch a full Bn Gp. But what the Airforce offers is a truncated Battalion group with diminished combat capabilities, down to 50% . All is not hunky-dory with Airborne Operations. In terms of assets we need much more than the Airforce can offer today. Can we launch in the first 24 hours. Just ask the Airforce ? Do we have that capability ? There are a lot of issues involved and I can vouch that it isn’t so good as you make it sound. We are fooling around – its time we wake up to the realities.

  2. The para landing of a battalion group or so for a so called emerging super power is nothing to gloat about.Indian Army had landed a battalian group in 1971 war at Tangail in Bangladesh.But then perhaps you don’t even know about it or do you?

  3. I guess there is nothing new in these exercises. The Parachute Brigade has always been involved in Strike Corps exercises in the past also. Air Borne and Heli -borne exercises have been carried out in support of major exercises of the past like Shiv Shakti, Dig Vijay and Brass Tacks. One aspect that needs clarification form your side is – “This airborne exercise has validated the IL-76 better than the American machines in use”. We have used IL-76 before too so what’s new now and how does it score over C-130 and the C-17. Thank You.

  4. India has been involved in military exercises within and beyond the country. India, after missing all opportunities to contain Pakistan militarily and politically, After inflicting the defeat at Kargil, there is no doubt that India realized her weaknesses of unpreparedness to confront eventualities. Lack of wherewithal , lack of intelligent in-put and above all lack of preparedness culminated in heavy loss of Indian jawans who sacrificed their lives , holding the vintage guns of the second world war. We are yet witnessing onslaughts inside Indian territories by miscreants from across the boarder, which are sadly neither detected nor prevented . Although India achieves the ultimate success in thwarting the foe’s plans, the success comes with a considerable loss of lives. Exercises galvanize preparedness and ensure strategies are well mastered. India may have not gone for wars, despite provocations that demanded wars, but emerging scenarios around her may compel conflicts, as patience may run out of her closest However, exercises of the caliber of Bahmanwali , entails a modicum of secrecy as strategies of a cause of action will serve the purpose well and prevent the foes from learning Indian tactics, strategies and activate their counter measures. History of Indian wars reveals that Pakistan acquires prior knowledge of Indian movement of troops, who are mostly taken aback at the defense posture that Pakistan had already taken. Therefore safeguarding even the wee bit of strategy is vital. Having said that I am no expert in matters of a country’s military , but an humble opinion as we are yet suffering from the 1000 cuts from Pakistan.

  5. Use of Tactical Nukes on Strike Formations is a strong possibility.Multan and Bahawalpur are Pakistani Territory.However for the enemy to launch a strike , a very heavy concentration of Indian Strike Elements is needed.This will have to be credibly established by Pakistani UAVs and Reconissance Assets.The Tactical Nuke is a double edges sword.

  6. Well written Danvir Singh. Yes, part of it does sound fantastic but it gives a good feeling. Whatever you’ve written is very broad and available in public domain for the discerning reader. So there is nothing to fear about confidentiality here. The nation must know our capabilities and feel reassured.
    Bhawalpur is a typo error. It is actually Bahawalpur.

  7. Still a shock and awe wid minimal infantry use is required to answer tactical nukes. I assume this type f strike may occur well near pakistan’s military establishment. So tht thy won’t be able to use tactical nukes

  8. Makes interesting reading, even though the forecast outcomes of the envisaged battle deployment seems a bit self serving!! Straight out of a Staff College ‘Whites’, j’est ne ce paz?

    More to the issue, should the tactical and doctrinal thinking, or as the Army likes to call it ‘The Concept of Ops’, be so openly discussed on a web forum?? Have we sacrificed the established Principle of War #9, which is SURPRISE??

    Point to ponder Sir Danvir!!

  9. Very bold step by IA , ex shatrujeet is a befitting reply to china Pak exercise in recent past
    Under the strong leadership of Mr modi….india is no more a lame duck as perceived by china .india soon going to sign LEMOA with US and givng visa to Isa is testimony to the fact that we are going to take a strong position with credible deterrence..

  10. The capabilities of the armed forces was seldom the suspect.

    The suspect apart from the political will and IAS babu administration is when

    1) India buckles under pressure to not open these fronts

    2) Political and Civil Administrative class thrusting ill military strategy unto the armed forces during war which leads to..

    3) India fooling itself that oothe spheres are not opened to ” contain” and limit war..whilst the reality is that the war is contained to that specific area in India as Pak does not open another front for obvious reasons, blames the muhajedeens for the attack and Indian govt succumbing to such nonsence and advising Chiefs not to open another front….

    4) The Chiefs instead of rejecting this dictate and as Chiefs should chanelise the political ; administrative and diplimatic class to military strategy instead succumb to the political pressure…display fear of escalation!!!
    And then again instead of advising against a ceasefire at the threshold of victory..fall for the political ill advise and retreat back when blodying The nose of the attacker is imperative.

    Lets not close eyes to the above or obfuscate it under any pretext as from point 1 to 4 are examples of Kargil war and how each segment played their role including the COAS and CAS.

    Ironically the ranks within both the forces were bitter against each other and wrote volumes defending their segment…only as the Chiefs lacked the gumption to take the kargil adventure of Pak as god sent to deciminate it using our armed forces and its strategy to fall prey to non milutary strategy by non military personnel and that too during a war.

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