Dushyant Singh Pundir
Chandigarh, February 3
After a string of delays, the country’s first Indian Air Force (IAF) Heritage Centre is all set to be thrown open to public on March 3. The centre was earlier scheduled to be inaugurated on January 31.
The centre, being set up at the Government Press building, Sector 18, was likely to be inaugurated by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, said an official, but they were yet to receive a confirmation.
The centre, which is expected to draw tourists from both within the country and abroad, will offer an insight into the rich legacy and glory of the force. The IAF will showcase its vintage aircraft, armament, memorabilia and other artefacts, including audio-video displays.
Among the top attractions at the centre is a simulator offering visitors the experience of flying an IAF aircraft.
This will also act as a platform to motivate and facilitate the youth to join the force. This will not only help provide employment opportunities but also strengthen the force and reinforce national integration. A souvenir shop has been set up for visitors.
The star attractions, however, will be five vintage aircraft, including a Gnat, put up at an adjacent intersection. In 1971, Flying Officer Nirmaljit Singh Sekhon was a pilot of a Gnat detachment based at Srinagar for the air defence of Kashmir Valley against Pakistan air attacks. He was posthumously awarded the Param Vir Chakra.
Another aircraft, a MiG-21, has been installed in the parking area of the centre. The fighter aircraft first entered service in 1963.
Air Force “Kanpur-1”, installed inside the centre, was the first one to have been built by India in 1951 by Air Vice Marshal Harjinder Singh.
The IAF had received the vintage prototype aircraft from Punjab Engineering College (PEC) here for display along with other aircraft at the centre.
Installed in the rear lawn of the centre, HPT-32 primary trainer aircraft was manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and used for training young flight cadets.
A MiG-23 MF, installed at the rear end of the centre, is a swing-wing interceptor capable of delivering an array of missiles, bombs and guided weapons.
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