IAF combat planes set capital’s skies ablaze

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

NEW DELHI - Indian Air Force (IAF) front line fighter jets, including Russian-origin Sukhois and MiG-29s and Anglo-French Jaguars, Wednesday set the capital’s skies ablaze with their flying display during the Republic Day parade here.

The star attraction at the 28-aircraft flying display was the Sukhoi air superiority fighter jets — the most potent combat plane in the IAF inventory — in their ‘Trishul’ formation flying at speeds of 840 kmph.

Of the three Sukhois in the fly-past, the lead aircraft broke away from the formation to carry out its signature ‘Vertical Charlie’ manoeuvre in which it rose high up into the skies and then performed quick rolls right above India Gate.

Soon after the parade’s cultural shows were over, 25 aircraft from the IAF inventory began their display with three Mi-25 attack helicopters of Russian origin leading the pack past the saluting base.

This is the first time these Russian gunships of the IAF have participated in a Republic Day parade.

The IAF also brought out its IL-78 midair refueller for the first time as the lead aircraft of the ‘Big Boy’ formation also comprising two AN-32 medium transport planes and Dornier reconnaissance aircraft.

Among the 13 fighter jets were five Jaguar deep penetration combat planes and five MiG-29 multi-role aircraft that flew at 1,000 feet at speeds of 780 kmph.

Apart from these, the IAF also had four MI-171V transport helicopters carrying the national flag and the flags of the army, navy and the air force under their belly.

The Army Aviation Corps flew three Advanced Light Helicopters Dhruv, an indigenous chopper built by the defence public sector undertaking Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.

Fortunately, the weather did not play a spoilsport this year with the skies being clear and visibility good enough for the crowds on Rajpath to enjoy a full-fledged fly-past.

In the last two decades, the fly-past has been cancelled only on a couple of occasions on Republic Day due to bad weather and heavy clouds over the capital.

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