An array of fighter and support aircraft of the Indian Air Force has been operating out of the Thiruvananthapuram airport since February 16 as part of the annual ‘Dakshin Prahar’ exercise of the IAF.

Nine Jaguar deep penetration strike aircraft, one IL-78 flight refueller aircraft, two Droniers, a helicopter, maritime version of the Jaguar aircraft, three Sukhoi-30 fighters and two flight refueller aircraft are participating in the annual operational exercise being conducted in the Southern peninsular region and the adjoining island territories, according to a press note here.

Prior to this exercise, these aircraft took part in joint exercises with the Indian Navy and Army.

“The operations were conducted on both the eastern and western seaboard, demonstrating the reach and ability of the IAF fighters to defend our island territories and support the other two services,” the press note said.

‘Dakshin Prahar,’ the press note said, was intended to validate operational concepts of Southern Air Command and ensure that civil-military cooperation and airspace management were streamlined.

As part of this exercise Jaguar aircraft carried out the first-ever landing by a fighter aircraft at the airfield at Thanjavur where a new runway had recently been constructed.

‘Dakshin Prahar’ is aimed at honing the skills of the IAF aircrew, maintenance and administrative personnel and radar operators.