Indian Air Force celebrated its 76th anniversary on October 8, with an air display by 52 aircraft at the Hindon Air Force Station, near Delhi.
The Air Force Day Parade started with Ensign formation of three MI-17 helicopters in Vic formation at a height of 60 meters and speed of 80 kilometers, closely followed by Vic formations of three each MiG-21, MiG-23, Mirage 2000 and MiG-29 aircraft. Three Sukhois in Vic formation pulled up steeply carrying out upward and outward maneuvers.
Attending the ceremony were Marshall of the Air Force Arjan Singh, Admiral Sureesh Mehta of the Indian Navy, General Deepak Kapoor of the Indian Army, AOC-in-C Western Air Command, and former air chiefs. Addressing the gathering Chief of Air Staff Fali H Major said, "I see a future where the Indian Air Force will project aerospace power credibly within its zone of influence with precision, speed, and high intensity, against a variety of objectives by seamlessly integrating all our assets to achieve very compressed decision cycles."
Technical evaluation of the ‘Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft’ is in progress and the flight trials should commence next year. The long awaited Hawk trainers, have been inducted, and flying training has commenced at Bidar. 17 pilots have already finished the consolidation stage. The first ‘Boeing Business Jet’ has arrived, and the first ‘Airborne Warning and Control System’ is expected early next year. Contract for the C-130J Special Operations aircraft has been signed and will operate from this very Base, in a couple of years. Helicopters in the Medium, Light and Attack class are also in the pipeline. There are many more projects in varying stages of completion. It is indeed an exciting time for our Air Force! "
The first BEL manufactured ‘Rohini’ Radar has been inducted with many more in the pipeline. Medium, High and Low Level Radars will also follow. Acquisition process for Surface to Air Missiles, to beef up our Air Defence capability, has commenced.
All these assets will be integrated through the ‘Integrated Air Command and Control System’, and AFNET with the Command & Control centres. We seek to harness the capabilities of Space and Cyberspace to dominate the Information domain and increase transparency for better situational awareness.
The C-130J Special Operations aircraft are to operate from Hindon in a couple of years, Major added. And he stressed the air service’s continuing modernization.
MiG-23BN fighters phased out
Beginning 1982, the IAF had over 70 of the MiG-23s. In the final phase of the aircraft's service with the IAF, there were four operational squadrons till about a year ago. "This will be the final public display of the MiG 23BN fighter aircraft before its phase out early next year," an IAF officer attending the 76th Air Force Day Parade said.
The Russian ground attack aircraft will be phased out due to the increase in maintenance costs and problems relating to non-availability of spare parts. "Maintaining the aircraft fleet is very expensive for the IAF, so we have to phase out the aircraft, which has served us well over two decades-and-a-half. The Russian-made aircraft incur heavy financial costs for repairs and spares," an official said.
The MiG-23s are likely to be replaced by the 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft for which India had floated global tenders in August last year. The new aircraft are likely to join the fleet sometime around 2013.