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On the night of November 3, 1988, the Indian Air Force mounted special operations to airlift a parachute battalion group from Agra, non-stop over 2000 km. out beyond the South-Western coast of India to the remote Indian Ocean archipelago of the Maldives. In response to that Government's appeal for military help against a mercenary invasion, the IL-76s of No. 44 Squadron landed at Hulule at 0030 hours, the Indian paratroopers securing the airfield and restoring Government rule at Male within hours. Buildup of forces continued the next day, with IL-76s, An-2s and An-32s flown to the Maldives from Trivandrum, while IAF Mirage 2000s made low level passes over the scattered islands in a show of force. The most immediate reality that emerged from this brief, and bloodless, action was the swift and effective Indian military response, made possible by the IAF's strategic airlift capability.

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