Hindon (Ghaziabad): The Indian Air Force (IAF) celebrated its 83rd anniversary on Thursday with a large parade and air display at the Hindon air base near Delhi.
The major take away from the celebrations was the announcement of a planned inclusion of women pilots in the fighter squadrons.
Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, today announced that women pilots will soon fly fighter jets of the Indian Air Force.
"We have women pilots flying transport aircraft and helicopters, we are now planning to induct them into the fighter stream to meet the aspirations of the young women of India," said Air Chief Marshal Raha in his address on the 83rd Air Force Day.
The celebrations also witnessed the highlight of this year's event, the reconstituted Surya Kiran Aerobatic Team (SKAT), which was showcased for the first time at this year¿s parade.
The squadron was disbanded four years ago due to the shortage of aircraft. It used to fly ageing Kiran trainers at the time but now has shifted to the British-designed Hawk Advanced jet trainers.
Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha. File pic/ AFP
The air display commenced with flag bearing sky divers of the famous Akash Ganga Team dropping out of AN-32 aircraft in their colourful canopies.
The parade was marked by a fly past of the ENSIGN formation comprising of three Mi-17 V5 helicopters in VIC formation. It was followed by Chakra formation comprising of three Mi-35. Other fighter aircrafts, including Jaguar and SU-30, also took part in fighter fly past.
Army Chief General Dalbir Singh and his Naval counterpart Admiral R.K. Dhowan were also present at the event along with batting legend Sachin Tendulkar, who became the first sportsperson to be made an honourary Group Captain in the Indian Air Force.
President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion lauded the Indian Air Force for its immense contribution to the nation.
President Mukherjee in his message said the IAF has over the years evolved into a formidable force with new acquisitions and weapons of great precision.
“IAF is rated one of the best in the world and has acquired the capability of strategic reach and precision targeting,” President Mukherjee said.
“The role of IAF is not only limited to fighting a war but also rendering timely assistance during national crisis. On numerous occasions in the past, during natural disasters, IAF has been at the forefront providing timely succor and relief,” he added.
The Prime Minister in his message said the IAF personnel have always served India with great courage and determination.
“Contribution of our Air Force is monumental. They are always at the forefront, be it in protecting skies or in times of disasters,” Prime Minister Modi said in a series of tweets.
The IAF, which was established on October 8, 1932, is becoming more youthful and agile with every passing day.
The IAF has proved its mettle on all occasions, be it the war of 1965, 1971 or the 1999Kargil war. It also played an exemplary role during the floods in Jammu and Kashmir, disasters in Uttarakhand and the earthquake in Nepal.