Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman on Tuesday made a ‘grand entry’—flying a MiG 21 fighter jet—amid cheers from the audience at the Hindon Air Base to mark the annual Air Force Day parade here, some 20 kms east of New Delhi.
Abhinandan led a team of three MiG 21’s at the air display here. Another team, named ‘Avengers’—flew past in a Mirage 2000 and Sukhoi 30 MKI—included the members of the IAF squadrons that carried out air strikes at Balakot in Pakistan on February 26 this year.
Wing Commander Abhinandan was part of the air duel over Nowshera in Jammu and Kashmir the next day. He had to eject in Pakistan and was released 48 hours later. He has been awarded the Vir Chakra, the third highest battle honour.
At the parade, US-made helicopters, the Chinook and Apache, made their public debut.
It is for the first time in more than 60 years that the Indian Air Force is now operating US-made copters, a change since the times the IAF flew Soviet /Russian-built copters.
The two copters are made by American aerospace giant Boeing. The heavy-lift capability Chinook CH 47 was inducted in Chandigarh in April this year while the Apache 64E attack copter was inducted at Pathankot in September this year.
So far the IAF has been using the Mi26 for heavy lift role while the Mi35/Mi25 for attack role.
Ajay Banerjee/Tribune News Service /Hindon (UP) October 8