Hindon (UP): For the first time since its
induction this year, `Phalcon` Airborne Early Warning and
Control System (AWACS) was showcased as the pride of
possession by the IAF at its anniversary parade held at the
airbase here on Wednesday.
The Israeli-made eye-in-the-sky radar mounted on
Russian IL-76 airframe was displayed during the fly past that
marked the 77th Air Force Day.
AWACS provides the IAF the capability to keep a close
watch on enemy aircraft and missiles taking off from their
bases, even as it flies far away from the border, and helps in
directing Indian fighter aircraft and air defence counter
measures to the incoming threats.
The Air Force also displayed its air power with 54
frontline fighter aircraft such as Russian-origin Sukhois,
French Mirage-2000s, British deep penetration strike Jaguars,
apart from vintage MiG-21s and MiG-27s and Mi-17 transport and
Mi-35 attack helicopters from several airbases across north
India participating in the flying display over the skies of
Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh.
IAF chief Air Chief Marshal P V Naik took the salute
from the air warriors participating in the parade commanded by
Group Captain S K Vidhate.
The parade itself was witnessed by foreign diplomats
and defence attaches. Members of Parliament, Marshal of the
Air Force Arjan Singh, Army chief General Deepak Kapoor and
Navy Vice Chief Vice Admiral D K Dewan were present as guests
of honour. Navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma is away in the US
to attend an international sea power symposium.
As in the previous years, the star attraction of this
year`s parade was the IAF`s `Surya Kiran` aerobatics team,
only the third such nine-aircraft formation flying team, on
their Kiran MkII trainer aircraft and the `Sarang` helicopter
aerobatics team flying four `Dhruv` Advanced Light Helicopters
displaying their breath-taking stunts in the air.
Organised by the Western Air Command under its Chief
Air Marshal N A K Browne, the precursor to the parade was the
air warriors from the `Akashganga` para-jumping team jumping
off an AN-32 aircraft from an height of 5,000 feet, opening up
their colourful parachutes to lit up the skies.
The air warrior`s precision training, discipline and
rigours was brought out by a drill team that performed
spellbinding exercises using their bayonet-fitted rifles.
This year`s static display comprised of fighter
aircraft Sukhoi, MiG-29, Mirage-2000, Jaguar, MiG-21 Bison,
transport aircraft Dornier, Mi-17 IV transport helicopter and
Prithvi indigenous ballistic missile.
Naik also presented 55 decorations, including two Bar
to Vayu Sena Medals and five Sena Medals, both for gallantry,
apart from 15 Vayu Sena Medals and 32 Vishist Seva Medals to
officers and airmen, of which four was bravery exhibited
during the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks last year.
Gallantry medals for 4 IAF men
Two IAF officers and two
other airmen were today honoured with gallantry medals for
fighting terrorists during their three-day 26/11 Mumbai siege,
apart from a fighter pilot who lost his life in the only ever
Sukhoi fighter jet crash in India in April this year.
IAF chief Air Chief Marshal P V Naik presented Bar to
Vayu Sena Medal (VM) for gallantry to Wing Commander Amitabh
Sharma, apart from VM for Gallantry to Wing Commander Deepak
Kumar Vats, Warrant Officer Prem Singh Rajput and Junior
Warrant Officer Jawed Hussain Siddiqi for their contribution
in the Mumbai operations against terror.
He also presented the VM for meritorious service to
Wing Commander Pushpendra Singh Nara, a MiG-21 and Su-30MKI
pilot, who was killed in the crash during an inspection flight
over Jaisalmer in Rajasthan on April 30. The other pilot, Wing
Commander M V Munje, had survived the crash.
Apart from the four, the IAF chief also presented two
other VM for Gallantry to Wing Commanders Prashant Mohan and
Harvinder Sandhu at the 77th Air Force Day parade here.
Among the total 55 medals presented were 15 other VMs
for meritorious service and 32 Vishist Seva Medals for
Wg Cdr Amitabh Sharma, who won a Bar to VM for
Gallantry, had flown a Mi-17 IV transport helicopter to insert
30 National Security Guard (NSG) commandos on the Nariman
House in Mumbai on November 28, 2008, through a slithering
operation, despite risks of being shot at, by hovering over
Wg Cdr Deepak Kumar Vats, a Mi-17 IV pilot, too had
flown his helicopter for a similar NSG commando slithering
operation on the terrace of Nariman House on the same day to
flush out and eliminate the terrorists holed up there.
During these operations, Warrant Officer Prem Singh
Rajput, a Flight Gunner on Mi-17 IV, was tasked to facilitate
slithering down of NSG commandos over Nariman House, where
Israeli nationals were held hostage, and contributed to the
success of the anti-terrorist operation there the same day.
Junior Warrant Officer Jawed Hussain Siddiqi, a Flight
Engineer on Mi-17 IV, had on November 27 prepared the
helicopter overnight for an early morning NSG commando
operation at Nariman House the next day and also assisted the
Captain by continuously calling out exact location of the
drop, unmindful of the risk to his own life.