Southern Army Commander Lt Gen D R Soni in the cockpit of the Sukhoi Su-30 MKI

As a symbolic gesture of inter-services integration, Southern Army Commander Lt Gen D R Soni conducted a sortie in the Indian Air Force’s frontline fighter jet Sukhoi Su-30 MKI from the Lohegaon Air base in Pune on the eve of Republic Day.

The 45-minute-long flight by Wing Commander Tarun Gupta went to an altitude of 8,000 metres, covering large tracts of the Southern Command Area of Responsibility including areas where troops and tanks were carrying out ground exercises. General Soni has said in the past that wars can only be won with ultimate synergy between the three services of India’s armed forces.

Recently, he spoke about tri-services integration, saying, “It’s a gradual process and it’s happening. I have seen phenomenal changes in integration. Officers of all three forces have risen up together to higher ranks and they will fight the next war together. We are preparing men, machines and equipment for tomorrow’s war.”