The Indian Air Force celebrated its 87th anniversary on Tuesday and presented an impressive parade. The air display was led by Balakot dogfight hero Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman in a MiG Bison aircraft; the pilot had participated in the February airstrike over the LoC and was briefly detained by Pakistan.
Addressing those gathered at a celebration commemorating the Indian Air Force’s 87th anniversary, IAF Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria said that they should always be vigilant and alert to existing sub-conventional threats.
“In recent years, the geopolitical environment around India has been rapidly changing and uncertainties have created numerous challenges to national security. The Indian Air Force has demonstrated its resolve and capability in puncturing the perpetrators of terrorism and we need to be ever prepared to meet any contingency that challenges the defence of our country.”
The pilots who took part in Balakot airstrikes have been included in the parade as a mark of tribute to the teams which carried out the strike on 26 February. The pilots who participated in Balakot airstrike flew three Mirage 2000 aircraft and two Su-30MKI fighter aircraft in an ‘Avenger Formation’ at Hindon Air Base on the outskirts of the national capital.
Bhadauria also added that India was modernising its Air Force with the induction of French Rafale jets and Russian S-400 Defence Missile Systems. He said the focus is now to design and manufacture more aircraft and weapons systems in the country itself, to reduce dependence on foreign suppliers.
After the successful flight of an AN-32 transport aircraft during the Independence Day Parade on 28 January this year on a mix of biofuel and Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF), the fuel mix would be used on more aircraft to be used by the Air Force, Air Force Chief Bhadauria explained.
The biojet fuel was developed by the state-funded Indian Institute of Petroleum (IIP) in the northern city of Dehradun, under the federal ministry of Science and Technology.
In August 2018, the first commercial aircraft was flown from Dehradun to New Delhi powered by a mix of biojet fuel and ATF, marking a new chapter in the aviation history of India.
The Balakot strike by the IAF on a suspected Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM)terrorist training camp was in retaliation for a suicide attack on Indian troops in Pulwama on 14 February. JeM reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack on the convoy that killed 40 soldiers.