Bangalore: The golden jubilee of the maiden
flight of HF-24 (Marut), India`s first indigenous combat
aircraft, was celebrated on Friday with those associated with it
in various capacities going down the memory lane narrating
Commander-in-Chief of Strategic Forces Command (SFC), Air
Marshal KJ Mathews termed it a "phenomenal aircraft" and
recalled that he had flown it for 300-odd hours as a pilot
officer and flying officer.
At a function organised by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited
here, HAL`s Chief Test Pilot Squadron Leader Baldev Singh
said: "The Marut indeed was an aircraft ahead of its times",
while HAL`s director (Design and Development) NC Agarwal
spoke on the design and development stages of the project.
On June 17, 1961, with Gp Capt Suranjan Das at the
controls, the HF-24 tail number BR 462 took to the air for the
first time. HAL built 129 single seaters and 18 trainers from
1964 to 1977.
During 1971, the Maruts used their devastating firepower
on Pakistani troops, vehicle concentrations and transportation
systems in Naya Chor sector and along the Rohri-Khanpur
Officials said the Maruts also encountered occasional air
opposition, though not a single aircraft was lost to aerial
combat. The last sortie of the beautiful and versatile
aircraft was flown on October 8, 1984 on the Air Force Day
by Wg Cdr Vikram Pethia.
The aircraft retired gracefully, and now rests, in all
her majesty, at the Air Force Academy, Dindigul in Tamil Nadu.