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Aero India 2023

Indian Air Force's new squadron to fly vintage fighters

An official photo of IAF's Wapiti fighter aircraft (1932-1945).

NEW DELHI (BNS): It might be an age of modern fighters, but the Indian Air Force (IAF) does not want to cut threads with the past and plans to raise a new squadron that would have ‘fighters’ from yesteryear.

The latest squadron would fly vintage aircraft like the Hurricanes, Wapiti, Ajeet, Tigermoth and Hunters. The country’s air force wants to showcase its past through the new squadron with aircraft which have become part of the Indian military folklore.

These machines have witnessed various conflicts the nation faced during its evolution. Raising the vintage squadron would be a challenge since making old aircraft airworthy is a daunting task for the IAF engineers and maintenance staff.

A senior IAF officer said the vintage squadron would help in creating awareness in the country about the history of the force and what it had gone through. It would be particularly relevant at a time when the complexion of the IAF is undergoing transformation as new and modern equipment are being added into its inventory.

The vintage squadron would have one aircraft that formed part of its strike force, the officer said adding if the aircraft are brought back to flying condition, IAF would rank among the few forces in the world to have a fleet of operational vintage flying machines.

“It would take some time to achieve the feat and initially the aircraft would be only on static display. Later, it would take the machines to the skies once again. It could take more than a year to fly the first aircraft. Maintenance of the old aircraft would be a difficult task as getting spare parts is not easy, '' he said.

Most of these aircraft form part of the IAF museum located at Palam Air Force Station in New Delhi. The museum is open to public and draws large number of visitors.

Though bought from foreign manufacturers, the IAF had developed a smooth system for their repairs and maintenance. Some of the processes were devised through home grown technologies. But sourcing spares from the local markets would be arduous and it would not be possible to accomplish the task without help from the manufacturers, the official said.

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