The field firing ranges at Mahajan reverberated with the sound of artillery gunfire, rockets launched by aircraft and the awesome firepower of the newly-inducted T-90S Main Battle Tank (MBT), as the Indian Army showcased its firepower capability in Exercise Divya Astra in Rajasthan in February/March 2004. The timing of the exercise, which was postponed twice earlier, encouraged media persons to ask Chief of Army Staff General Nirmal Chander Vij if this was a manifestation of the 'feel good' factor. The day long exercise showed an integrated firepower display by the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force (IAF), during the course of which the MiG-21bis multi-role fighter, the MiG-23BN ground attack fighter and the Mi-35 attack helicopter fired their weapons in perfect symphony with the infantry, artillery and armour. The joint exercise was also witnessed by the GOC-in-C Western Command, Lieutenant General Joginder Jaswant Singh, the GOC 2 Corps, Lieutenant General G.D. Singh, the GOC-designate 10 Corps, Major General O.P. Nandrajog and a host of divisional commanders falling under the Western Command. The exercise illustrated how a combat group of the Army engages an enemy company location and ultimately captures it by using various weapons in its arsenal and with close air support.
The T-90S MBT was seen in operation as it engaged stationary armour with its anti-tank guided missiles. The infantry weapons used during the display included the 84mm Carl Gustav rocket launcher, automatic grenade launchers, multiple grenade launchers and the BMP-2 ICV. The artillery support - which devastated the designated enemy area with accurate fire - consisted of the 155mm Bofors gun, 105mm and 130mm field guns and the GRAD BM-21 multi-barrel rocket launchers. The GRAD BM-21 unleashed a terrifying salvo of rockets justifying their name as the 'Terror Weapon' of the Indian Army and were definitely the piece de resistance of the day. The IAF displayed the accurate firepower of its aircraft, which included a complement of eight MiG-21s that performed impeccably and achieved direct hits with their shallow dives and well-aimed 57mm rockets. Four MiG-23s dropped 250-kg bombs on the target area with pinpoint accuracy. The IAF rounded up its display with a pair of Mi-35s, which flew in at tree top level and neutralised a target with 80mm rockets. The Army also conducted a bridging exercise, during the latter half of the day, which consisted of BMP-2s fording the Indira Gandhi canal and the Sappers establishing a pontoon bridge to help the armour cross over to the other side.