A dazzling show by a fleet of military aircraft over the Sukhna Lake here enthralled the gathering, including President Droupadi Murmu, who clapped during their breathtaking maneuvers as the Indian Air Force marked its 90th anniversary celebrations on Saturday.It is the IAF’s first annual Air Force Day parade and fly-past outside the Delhi-National Capital Region, which also saw the participation Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
Governors of Punjab and Haryana Banwarilal Purohit and Bandaru Dattatreya, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Chandigarh MP Kirron Kher were present too.Prior to the spectacular aerial display, a ceremonial parade was held at the air force station here in the morning in the presence of Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari.
Murmu was accorded the guard of honour upon her arrival here. This is her first visit to Chandigarh as the President of India.The recently inducted and indigenously built Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) ‘Prachand’ also showcased its aerial prowess during the fly-past in a three-aircraft formation.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, including Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, Sukhoi, Jaguar, Rafale, IL-76, C-130J and Hawk were part of the fly-past.Among the helicopters, Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv, Chinook, Apache and Mi-17 were part of the aerial display.The fly-past commenced with an ‘Aakash Ganga’ team of paratroopers in an AN-32 aircraft. Mi 17 V5 choppers showed their capability to undertake a fire-fighting operation using a ‘bambi bucket’, while Mi17 IV helicopters performed helocasting.The US-made Chinook choppers, which are used for transporting troops, artillery etc, were also part of the spectacular display.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 ‘Ensign’ formation comprising three Mi-17 V5 helicopters.The ‘Globe’ formation comprised a C-17 heavy lift aircraft and nine Hawk-132 jets trained by the Surya Kiran display team.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.The IAF’s vintage aircraft Harvard and Dakota also made an appearance in the air show.
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.The city administration arranged buses from 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.