ll the operational commands of the Indian Air Force (IAF) will come together in March-April next year to move their assets as they would in a real two-front war scenario, during the exercise Livewire. This operational war-game will, for the first time, see the IAF exercising all its formations together. IAF has seven commands: Western, South-Western, Central, Southern, Eastern, Training and Maintenance. Since serious preparations are underway, all postings from one formation to another have been stopped.
"Till now only one formation used to exercise at a time, and keeping either Pakistan or China in mind. But it's for the first time that a real war-like scenario will be enacted keeping both countries in mind and with all the commands participating. The war theatre could be anywhere, the headquarters is working that out," a source told this newspaper.
The Nagpur-based Maintenance Command and Bangalore-based Training Command may not have much to do in the exercise, but all other commands will have full participation. The participation of Southern Air Command too will be limited, as it does not have fighter aircraft, but only transports.
All the frontline aircraft of the IAF like the Sukhoi-30MKI, Jaguar, MiG-29s, Mirages-2000, the AWACS, the newly acquired C-130J transport aircraft, and all other assets will be part of the exercise and will move exactly to places where they would during actual war.
Networking in a combat environment will be the thrust of Livewire.
Former IAF chief S. Krishnaswamy told this newspaper, "Routine training is very localised and an exercise of this kind and magnitude is required once in a while, as it gives the personnel good training for a war-like scenario. In terms of preparedness, compared to earlier, the aircraft and radar are better, but just having them is not enough, they need to be tested. There may not be a war, but crew needs to be trained in command and control in a network centric environment."