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IAF holds air show over Dal Lake after 14 yrs, return to Valley ‘positive sign’, experts say

The last time the IAF performed an air show in Kashmir was in September 2007 when the Suryakiran Aerobatic Team performed to a crowd at the Srinagar Air Force Station.

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New Delhi: The Indian Air Force Sunday performed an air show above Srinagar’s Dal Lake.

Titled ‘Give Wings to Your Dream’, the show was a part of the ongoing ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ celebrations, and featured four MiG-21 fighter jets, three Sukhoi Su-30 MKI jets, Boeing Chinook CH-47 heavy-lift helicopters, as well as seasoned performers like the Akash Ganga Skydiving Team and the Suryakiran Aerobatic Team.

This is the first air show to be held in Srinagar after 14 years when the Suryakiran Aerobatic Team performed to a crowd at the Air Force Station in September 2007 to mark the platinum jubilee of the IAF.

IAF sources told ThePrint that such events are held on special occasions and are organised across the country.

The IAF air show’s return to the Valley after a long gap is a positive sign, according to Air Marshal Anil Chopra (retd), DG Centre of Air Power Studies.

“In the last couple of years, India has reached out to the people of Jammu and Kashmir more, and the integration process [of J&K in India] has strengthened,” Air Marshal Chopra told ThePrint.

A regular feature held at venues across the country, the IAF’s air shows are a way to motivate young people and enlighten them about the Air Force, and they are not simply a means to project power, the Air Marshal added.

Air Vice Marshal Manmohan Bahadur (retd), former Additional DG, Centre for Air Power Studies, said the event in Srinagar and the IAF’s return there are indicators of a better law and order situation in the union territory. The aim of such air displays is to showcase the IAF’s capabilities and encourage youngsters to join the forces, he added.

“[The 14-year gap] shows how the ground circumstances in J&K have changed so much,” he said.

Air Marshal Chopra also talked about the contributions made by the people of Jammu and Kashmir to the air force over the years. “[People of J&K] have done an outstanding job within the IAF as fighter pilots, for instance, and play an important role alongside cultural events [like the air show] to motivate more youth about the IAF,” he told ThePrint.

A recent example is Mawya Sudan, the first woman fighter pilot from J&K’s Rajouri district.

At the Sunday event, J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha called upon the youth in Jammu & Kashmir to join the Indian Air Force.

“Besides inculcating the spirit of nationalism, peace and communal harmony, the air show has also made the youth of the region acquainted with the new technological advancements achieved by the Indian Air Force,” PTI quoted Sinha as saying.

Similar IAF events in other countries

While the IAF’s flagship event in the country – Aero India – is held once every two years at Bengaluru’s Yelahanka Air Force Station, the air force also participates in similar cultural events held overseas.

In March this year, the IAF’s Suryakiran and Sarang teams participated in the Sri Lankan Air Force’s 70th anniversary celebrations in Colombo.

In July this year, the Sarang team performed at the MAKS-2021 International Air Show held at the Gromov Flight Research Institute’s airfield in Zhukovsky, a suburb of Moscow.

Also read: Behind IAF’s new deal for Mirage 2000 spares is a 40-year saga of missed opportunities


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