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President Murmu, Rajnath Singh witness IAF prowess on Air Force Day in Chandigarh

An aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) flies past during 90th anniversary celebrations of IAF, at the Sukhna Lake in Chandigarh, Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022. A PTI Photo

CHANDIGARH (PTI):  The Indian Air Force put up a dazzling show here with over 70 military aircraft and helicopters, drawn from its modern and vintage fleet, displaying skillful manoeuvres on the occasion of its 90th anniversary celebrations.

It is the IAF's first annual Air Force Day parade and fly-past outside the Delhi-National Capital Region.

Prior to the spectacular air display, a ceremonial parade was held at the air force station here in the morning last Saturday which, was inspected by Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari.

In his address, Chaudhari said the central government has approved the creation of a weapon system branch for IAF officers, which would save around Rs 3,400 crore in flying training.

President Murmu was the chief guest for the air show. Rajnath Singh, Punjab and Haryana Governors Banwarilal Purohit and Bandaru Dattatreya, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Chandigarh MP Kirron Kher were also present at the event.

The IAF chief, and senior serving and retired officers from the three services also took part in the air show.

Murmu, who marked her first visit to Chandigarh as the President, was accorded a guard of honour upon her arrival.

Earlier in the day, Rajnath Singh in a tweet said, "Greetings and best wishes to all courageous IAF air warriors and their families on the Indian Air Force Day. The IAF is known for its valour, excellence, performance and professionalism. India is proud of its men and women in blue. Wishing them blue skies and happy landings."

At the aerial display, the recently inducted indigenously-built Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) "Prachand" showcased its aerial prowess during the fly-past in a three aircraft formation, even as Murmu and the other dignitaries clapped in awe.

Developed by state-run aerospace major Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), the 5.8-tonne twin-engine LCH is armed with air-to-air missiles, 20 mm turret guns and rocket systems, and is capable of destroying enemy tanks, bunkers, drones and other assets in high-altitude regions.

Several other aircraft such as Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, Sukhoi, Jaguar, Rafale, IL-76, C-130J, and Hawk also displayed their skillful manoeuvres, amid a thundering applause from the gathering.

The aircraft flew from eight bases over the Sukhna lake with up to six-km visibility amid a cloudy weather.

Various manoeuvres by Rafale left the spectators enthralled. Among helicopters, Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv, Chinook, Apache and Mi-17 were part of the show.

The air display commenced with an 'Aakash Ganga' team of paratroopers who ejected out of an AN-32 aircraft from 8,000 feet, drawing cheers from the crowd.

This was followed by a Mi-17 V5, which demonstrated the capability of undertaking a firefighting operation using a 'bambi bucket'. It flew at a low height in order to dispense water.

Another Mi-17 IV helicopter performed helo casting, showing its skill to launch an offensive operation.

The US-made Chinook choppers, which are used for transporting troops, artillery etc were also part of the spectacular display. The two all-weather helicopters conducted a hovering operation at just 30-feet height, displaying its capability to land on a tough terrain.

Rafale, Jaguar, Tejas and Mirage 2000 flew in 'Sekhon' formation, which is dedicated to IAF officer and Param Vir Chakra recipient late Nirmaljit Singh Sekhon.

The packed crowd was also enthralled by the 'Ensign' formation comprising three Mi-17 V5 helicopters. Following this, 'Prachand' LCH conducted a fly-past. Tejas LCA followed suit.

Drawn from the IAF's vintage fleet, Harvard and Dakota, too, made appearances in the show. Dakota, whose Indian name is Parashuram, was deployed during the 1971 war.

Two Chinooks again made an appearance carrying artillery guns.

The 'Eklavya formation' comprised an Mi-35 aircraft in lead with two Apache and ALH Mk IV helicopters, while the 'Big Boy' formation consisted of an IL-76 and two AN-32 aircraft.

Among the formations was 'Vajraang', comprising C-130 J and Sukhoi-30, and 'Netra' by the airborne early warning and control aircraft, Sukhoi-30 and MiG-29 fighter jets.

Aircrafts such as MiG-2000, Jaguar, Rafale, Bison, MiG-29 and Sukhoi-30 enthralled the audience with formations like Badal, Shamsher, Vajra and Trishul.

The Surya Kiran team comprising nine Hawk also undertook some breathtaking sorties, drawing cheers from the crowd.

The 'Vertical Charlie' manoeuvre by a single Rafale flying at a high speed was also a major attraction towards the end of the show.

The city administration arranged buses to ferry people to and back from the air show.

Tight security arrangements were put in place ahead of the celebrations.

Air Force Day marks the official induction of the IAF in 1932. Every year, the day is celebrated in the presence of the force's chief and senior officers among other dignitaries.

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