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IAF holds mega exercise at Pokhran with fighter jets & attack helicopters

Pokhran: The Indian Air Force on Saturday carried out a mega exercise here involving around 140 fighter jets and attack helicopters, in a fire power demonstration close to the border with Pakistan that came two days after the Pulwama attack.

As India's military establishment mulls options to avenge the strike by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group, Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa said the IAF was prepared to deliver "appropriate response" as assigned by India's political leadership.

Speaking at the inauguration of the day and night Vayu Shakti exercise, he, however, did not either mention Pakistan or the Pulwama attack.

"I wish to assure the nation of the IAF's capability and commitment in meeting national security challenges and defending sovereignty of our country," he said.

Top IAF sources said though the Vayu Shakti was planned in advance, the drill was a demonstration of the force's capability to hit targets with "pinpoint accuracy" and carry out missions at short notice. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said security forces have been given full freedom to retaliate against the attack. India has also said it will ensure "complete isolation" of Pakistan internationally for its support to terror groups.

"While wars are fought few and far between, we have an ever present sub-conventional threat as the enemy knows it cannot defeat us in a conventional conflict," the IAF chief said, in a clear reference to Pakistan. "So, today we showcase our ability to punish, our ability to insert and extricate troops from hostile territories," he said.

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