Dushyant Singh Pundir
Chandigarh, January 5
After a string of delays, the country’s first Indian Air Force (IAF) Heritage Centre will finally be thrown open to public on January 31.
The centre, being set up at the Government Press building, Sector 18, will be inaugurated by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in the presence of Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhary, Punjab Governor and UT Administrator Banwarilal Purohit and other dignitaries.
Air Marshal Pankaj Mohan Sinha, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command, will visit the centre on Friday to take stock of the preparations. 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 will be 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, says an official.
The star attractions, however, will be five vintage aircraft, including a Gnat that is being 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 on 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.
5 vintage aircraft on display
- Gnat, used in 1971 to defend Kashmir valley, to be showcased at Sector 8-9-17-18 light point
- MiG-21, which first entered the service in 1963, installed in parking area of the centre
- “Kanpur-1” vintage aircraft from PEC, first one to be built by India, displayed inside centre
- HPT-32 primary trainer aircraft, made by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, will be put up on rear lawn
- MiG-23 MF, a swing-wing interceptor, installed at the rear end of the centre
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