IAF gun drill sets audience on fire

Team of 17 from air force performs acrobatic stunts with rifles at National Defence Academy Tattoo Show

A team from the Indian Air Force (IAF) stunned the audience with a breathtaking show of specialised rifle drills. The team was performing on the sidelines of the NDA Tattoo Show, which is a precursor to the Passing out Parade (PoP) that will take place today.

Guns of glory: The Air Warriors Drill Team from the IAF performs at
NDA Tattoo Show yesterday evening. Pic/Ishan Ghosh

Called the Air Warrior Drill Team, 17 performers from squad took rifle handling to another next level. The drill involves a series of difficult rifle stunts where guns with live bayonets are rapidly rotated, thrown up and caught with superb precision.

NDA's daredevils: NDA cadets practise horse riding yesterday
for the Passing-out Parade today

The stunt is not performed simultaneously, but the team members do it one after the other giving it a wave-like effect. For instance, if the rifle is supposed to be thrown up and caught, the team will stand in a straight horizontal line and a member from either of the ends will throw up the weapon followed by the next man a split second later. The team constantly changed their formations at the same time showing the extreme level of difficulty involved, unlike regular military parades.

A cadet performs a stunt with a motorcycle that involves riding over
fellow cadets at the Tattoo Show

In another stunt, rifles were swapped between each one of the team members after throwing them up while marching in a triangular formation. The team was set up in 2005 on the lines of a similar drill squad from the US when a former IAF chief visited the country on an official tour.

A team of cadets gives a wrestling demonstration at the Tattoo Show
at the Bombay Stadium on the NDA campus. Pic/Ishan Ghosh

Squadron Leader BS Rathod, the team's main instructor, said the team consisted of 18 airmen and one is kept as a back up. "It was established in 2005 and trained for about a year after which a few were handpicked. They are then sent back to their parent units after a period of three years. We practise for about four hours daily, and the team has also performed at other events in the country," he said.

The rifle used in the drill is the .303 Enfield, which Rathod said was the most ergonomically designed weapon for such stunts. "The appropriate length-to-weight ratio makes it perfect for such performances. It also doesn't have any parts sticking out which may hurt the airmen or get lodged anywhere while performing," he said. 
The NDA Tattoo Show comprises horse riding events, mock commando drills, air shows by gliders, martial arts displays and high altitude para drops. The PoP of the 121st Course will be held today and the chief guest will be Bangladeshi Army chief General Mohammed Abdul Mudeen.

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