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Gagan Shakti 2018: Indian Air Force (IAF) keeps a distance with civilians and press during exercise at Saifai

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Indian Air Force’s jet and crew at Saifai Airstrip (Etawah Airport) during Gagan Shakti 2018 exercise. (Photo- Facebook/Vikash Rewar)

At 16 May 2015, Indian Air Force’s (IAF’s) two Mirage 2000 fighter jets of Gwalior Air Base landed and tested Saifai Airstrip (Etawah Airport). This leads to an Indian Air Force (IAF) practice exercise at Saifai Airstrip from 17 to 21 August 2015. At last day 300 students of S.S. Memorial Senior Secondary Public School, Saifai were invited by Air Force to see fighter jets. But this time Air Force keeps a distance with civilians and press.

Gagan Shakti 2018  at Saifai Airstrip, day by day updates:

13 April 2018-

A 60 member team from Indian Air Force (IAF) arrived in Saifai and stayed at guest house of Uttar Pradesh University of Medical Sciences (UPUMS), Saifai. Saifai Airstrip was supported to take a part in Gagan Shakti 2018 exercise of Indian Air Force (IAF) as a civil airport from 14 to 24 April according to local media reports. Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) of Saifai released an advisory to civilians to keep a 5 kilometres distance from Airstrip.

16 April 2016-

Unlike earlier local media reports, fighter jets of IAF arrived at Saifai Airstrip two days later on 16 April. Gagan Shakti 2018 was happening at a large scale, so not a single English Newspaper published any story but 3 major Hindi Newspapers carried story in Etawah, Lucknow and Kanpur editions. But Hindi news stories doesn’t have reliable names of fighter jets that landed in Saifai.

17 April 2018-

Most fighter jets of Indian Air Force (IAF) did air comeback and low level shots at Saifai Airstrip. IAF’s Su 30, Mirage 2000, Mig-21, Jaguar and transport aircraft Hercules were part of it according to next day report of Amar Ujala (Hindi daily).

Akhilesh Yadav (Former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh who is also son of Mulayam Singh Yadav, Former Difference Minister of India and resident of Saifai, Etawah district) tweeted: “While the UP government’s ‘defence corridor’ plan is still a castle in the air, the Saifai airstrip that we made could come in handy for the IAF for the air exercise.” with Amar Ujala and Dainik Jagran newspapers’ stories screenshots. (Amar Ujala and Dainik Jagran are 2 out of 3 major Hindi Newspapers who carried story.)

18 April 2018-

After Akhilesh Yadav’s tweet, Hindustan Times’ Lucknow edition carried story of “two Hawk aircraft landing at the town’s airstrip Tuesday morning as part of the Indian Air Force’s biggest exercise in the last three decades.” It was first and last English media report of Indian Air Force’s practice at Saifai Airstrip in 2018.

23 April 2018-

Indian Air Force (IAF) successfully completed practice exercise Gagan Shakti 2018 and left Saifai earlier after just 8 days practice. Public Relations Officer of Indian Air Force told local media that Air Force had problems at Saifai Airstrip only one day due to bad weather. Overall, Air Force has achieved set target for practice exercise.

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