New Delhi, 8 October President Pratibha Patil today released a set of four stamps depicting the progress of the Indian Air Force to mark the Platinum jubilee year of the force.
The stamps include one on the first combat aircraft of the IAF -- Westland Wapiti to the about to be inducted Airborne control and early warning aircraft.
Other aircraft to be pictured in the colourful series of stamps released by the country’s Supreme Commander were on the IL-78 mid-air refuellers and the indigenous advance light helicopter “Dhruv”.
The stamps were released at a reception held at Air House hosted by the air force chief Fali Homi Major. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Cabinet Ministers, Chiefs of Army and Navy and diplomats attended the reception.
On the occasion, a photo exhibition featuring the past, present and the future of the Indian Air Force, was also held.
Twenty-three IAF personnels were awarded the Vayusena Medals of which six were for bravery. Twenty-eight were awarded the Vishist Seva Medals. The awards were given by the Air Chief on behalf of the President of India.
The grand finale of the function was the scintillating display of formation aerobatics by the renowned ‘Surya Kiran´ team of nine aircrafts. It included take off in Vic formations of three aircraft in front of the spectators, followed by a breathtaking display of synchronized low-level manoeuvring in close formation.
The celebration today was also attended by Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Suresh Mehta, Chief of the Army Staff General Deepak Kapoor and many other former IAF Chiefs including other distinguished guests.
A searcher UAV was airborne prior to commencement of the parade to keep an eye on the entire proceedings.
Changing global security concerns required rapid modernisation of the country’s air power and plans are afoot to ensure IAF became one of the foremost air forces in the world, Air Force Chief Fali Homi Major said here today.
Though IAF currently is seeing force levels down to an all time low of 32 fighter squadrons, plans had been initiated to ensure that within next five years, the force became one the foremost air forces at global levels, Major said as his force bared its flying might to mark its 75th Platinum Jubilee year here.
He said the IAF modernisation programmes including induction of new Multi Role Combat aircraft, Airborne Early Warning Aircraft, armed UAVs and revamping its entire arsenal of ground to air missiles were “on course”.
His words of encouragement to air warriors came as IAF put up a breath taking fly-past by 75 aircrafts including fighters, mid-air refuelers, helicopter gunships to record its 75th year of touching the sky with glory.
For the first time, audiences in India got to witness a near heart stopping cross-over by two supersonic SU-30 MKI on the occasion. Though crowds have seen aerobatics by world famous flying troupes like the Red Arrows, this was the first time that such an event was done live by supersonic jets.
Besides, the Sukhoi, IAF showcased its entire range of fighters including Mirages, Mig-29’s, upgraded Mig-21’s, Mig-23’s and deep penetration strike aircraft Jaguars at this airbase, which saw fighter flying after a gap of 10 years.