New Delhi: Wing commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who shot down a Pakistan F-16 fighter jet after India’s air strike at Balakot in Pakistan earlier this year, led a MiG-21 Bison formation at the Air Force Day celebrations at Hindon air base Tuesday.
He was also awarded with the Vir Chakra recently.
Varthaman’s jet went down beyond the Line of Control and was detained by the Pakistani army on February 27. He was returned to India three days later at the Wagah-Attari border crossing on March 1.
Also read: Two IAF squadrons awarded citations on Air Force Day for role in Balakot airstrike
Balakot pilots also in flypast
The 87th Air Force Day flypast also saw other formations by Balakot air strike pilots who too won gallantry awards. This included an avenger formation, which comprised of three Mirage 2000 and two Sukhoi fighter jets.
The Mirages were flown by Squadron Leader Bhujadey, Group Captain P. Raj and Wing Commander Basoya while the Su-30s were piloted by Wing Commander K.P. Singh and Squadron Leader Parshuram.
IAF chief R.K.S. Bhadauria awarded unit citation to the 51 Squadron, 9 Squadron and 601 Signals unit for their role in the air strike on terrorist camps in Balakot.
The award was received by commanding officer of the squadron Group Captain Satish Pawar.
The recently-inducted American Chinook and Apache helicopters also made their debut in the flypast.
The indigenous LCA Tejas also flew for nearly five minutes — it demonstrated complex manoeuvres at the heights of the sky, among other flying formations.
Also read: Army plans to buy 350 helicopters over 10 years to modernise its Aviation Corps
IAF chief’s address
In his first address to the service since assuming office, Bhadauria said, “We acknowledge the contributions of all personnel of Commands, Stations and Units who silently and professionally contributed to the success of the air strikes on the terrorist camps at Balakot earlier this year.”
Batting for more indigenous assets in the service, the Air chief Marshal said that the Indian Air Force will soon induct the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) and the Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) which is “made in India” besides the already operational Advanced Light Helicopter.
While the LCH is at the limited series production stage, the LUH successfully completed high altitude weather trials last month.
Bhadauria said that there is a new focus on indigenous design and manufacturing to achieve “true strategic autonomy”.
“I would like to put on record that the IAF is fully committed towards indigenous development of high technology hardware in consonance with ‘Make in India’,” he said.
He added that within the Air Force, Nodal Technology centres at the Base Repair Depots have successfully completed 40 indigenisation projects over the last one year and another 122 projects are in the pipeline which are set to fructify soon.
Nice to see God is the first to witness the delivery.
No one is laughing Mohammed, it’s Indian way of doing things, all the world knows it. Indians do not pray inside the plane walkways or blocking roads streets or airports. Better leave others to their traditions.
Very hi tech Rafael Aircraft latest in science.
But hand it over to primitive Indians, they perform a superstitious ceremony, lemons under the wings to ward off the evil eye.
The French are laughing in contempt.
It’s criminal to sell expensive aircraft to our tin pot country which has hundreds of millions children with stunted growth due to malnutrition. The expense of just one fighter will provide nutritional meals for millions of these children.
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