Thursday, October 9, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

IAF becoming elite force: Air Chief
Tribune News Service

People turned up in large numbers at the exhibition organised by the Indian Air Force at Palam Airport in New Delhi on Wednesday. 

Surya Kirans of the IAF present a colourful aerobatic show on Wednesday. — PTI photos

New Delhi, October 8
The Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal S. Krishnaswamy while urging his men to make the Indian Air Force (IAF) more professional said today that it was a force to reckon with in the region.

“We are already a professional force and now we are in the process of turning into an elite one,” he said as the IAF celebrated its 71st anniversary holding an impressive parade and a fly-past by SU-30, Mirage 2000, MiG 21 Bison and other fighter aircraft at the Palam Technical Area here today.

As the IAF showcased its prowess with its new strategic force multipliers, mid-air refuellers and unmanned aerial vehicles the Chief of Air Staff said: “We are a strong and professional combat force but we need to be careful while choosing what (technology) suits us as it should also be cost effective”.

Addressing a large gathering of top services brass, foreign military attaches and airmen the Air Chief Marshal pointed to the rapid strides made by the country in the development of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), Advance Light Helicopter (ALH) and Jet Trainer and upgradation of Cheetah helicopter.

He stressed for the need for the private industry to enter the aviation industry. While pointing out that the main computer for the SU-30 MKI was indigeniously designed and developed, he said: “It was the right time for the private sector to enter the aviation industry in India.”

He said the new upgraded version of the MiG-21 named Bison, was more potent than its earlier model. “We have already inducted two squadrons and three more are in the offing,” he said.

Stressing the need for cooperation between the Army, Navy and Air Force, the Air Force Chief said the three services had one heart in tackling the adversary.

The IAF also showcased its latest acquisition, the IL-78 re-fuelling aircraft. The huge IL-78 aircraft flown by Group-Capt Shouvik Roy appeared straight in front of the dias and with two Sukhoi jets on either sides getting refuelled in the mid-air.

The mid-air achievement also impressed the only Marshal of the IAF Arjan Singh.

“There was no such thing during my time. But it is really good. It gives us the ability to strike deep,” he said recalling his glorious days during the World War II.

The much-awaited air show saw formation flights by MiG 21 Bisons, MiG 29s, Jaguars, Mirage 2000s and Sukhois. But the climax was the breathtaking display by the Suryakiran aerobatics team.

Earlier, the impressive parade led by Group-Capt Uparajit Singh saw airmen from all of the IAF’s commands from the Western Air Command to the Southern Air Command marching past.

On the occasion, the Air Force chief also gave away the Vayu Sena Medals and Vishisht Seva Medals to 25 IAF officers. Also decorated were one Army Brigadier and three naiks of the Defence Security Corps (DSC).

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