NEW DELHI, Oct 8, 2002(Adapted from "The Tribune") — To mark the occasion of Air Force Day, the IAF bared its might by displaying its state-of-the-art lethal flying machines and the aerobatic skills of its pilots. The IAF put up its most impressive flying display in over a decade, with the nation’s latest acquisitions, the SU-30MKI, deep penetration strike aircraft, Jaguars, MI-35 helicopter gunships and Mi-17 medium-lift helicopters taking part.
Speaking in the backdrop of a static display of fighting prowess of the IAF, with all the aircraft in the IAF inventory since its inception on show, Air Chief Marshal S. Krishnaswamy told a distinguished audience at the annual Air Force Day parade here that recent large-scale inductions like that of the upgraded version of Sukhoi-30MKI, more of the Mirage-2000 and the upcoming acquisition of IL-78 air refuelling tankers had provided the country a killer edge.
Air Chief Marshal Krishnaswamy said all these new acquisitions were aimed to turn the IAF into a dynamic force in the region. He added that the upgradation programme of the MiG-21 Bison was shaping well and the country’s indigenous design team and industry would take up the modernisation of the Jaguars and MiG-27 fighters soon.
Asserting that almost a year of operational deployment in the forward areas had amply conveyed to “those who needed to know” the force’s resolve and determination, the Chief of Air Staff pointed out that “staying under the wings of operational machines for possible action had helped the IAF to hone skills and more importantly, focus to the tasks that we would take on”.
An awesome display of aerobatics by the IAF Suryakiran team formed a befitting climax to the Air Force Day parade, in which the Air Chief Marshal decorated 58 officers and other ranks with Vayu Sena Medals and Vishisht Seva Medals.
The Suryakiran, only one of the few nine-aircraft aerobatic team operating between speeds of 200 and 600 kmph, dazzled and bewitched the crowd gathered at Palam technical area by carrying out intricate manoeuvres like Shockwave, Phoenix, Tango, Diamond, Cupid Heart and Apollo formations.
Lauding the Suryakiran daredevil fliers as a world-class aerobatic team, Air Chief Marshal Krishnaswamy said he would seek the government’s clearance to send the team for international events overseas.
Asserting that the IAF had now an operationally tested Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) force which was performing well, Krishnaswamy said, “We shall introduce new sensors and airfield support system to ensure enhanced overall effectiveness of the force”.
He also said Indian defence scientists had designed and developed a most advanced light helicopter ALH, adding that research was on to develop a new and more potent attack variant of the chopper.
Turning to the LCA programme, the Air Chief Marshal said the project was progressing well, as were the upgradation programmes of other aircraft and weapon systems.
Air Chief Marshal Krishnaswamy said the IAF was also working on means to improve career prospects for men and officers and examining ways to tap skilled ex-servicemen to build joint ventures in the field of training, education and engineering, as was being done in many western countries.
The Air Chief Marshal said acquisition of state-of-the-art fighters and multi-role aircraft like Sukhoi-30s ushered in new concepts, new operational structures and a new chapter on indigenous capability and international cooperation.
He said the IAF was eagerly awaiting the induction of Advance Jet Trainers and was looking forward to finalisation of the contract on an early date.
The IAF had given its air staff requirements to the government and was hopeful that final price negotiations would be arrived at, he told reporters on the sidelines of the function.
He said the IAF would be happy with any aircraft the government chose after keeping its air staff requirements in mind and once the contract came through, pilots would be sent abroad for training on the AJT.
The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal S. Krishnaswamy commended the following officers, Airmen, NCs (E), Army personnel and civilians for their outstanding performance and devotion to duty on the Air Force Day.