Today is a big day for the Indian Air Force. It’s the IAF’s 87th birth anniversary, and India will inroduce its newest multirole fighter jet Rafale into the Air Force at a handover ceremony in Merignac in France.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who is in France, will take delivery of the first Rafale made by French firm Dassault Aviation.

As part of its 87th birth anniversary celebrations on Air Force Day, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria is attending a grand fly-past by the IAF’s transport planes, helicopters and fighter jets at Hindon Air Force Station in Uttar Pradesh, Ghaziabad, near Delhi.

The IAF has pinned a promotional video on its Twitter page:

The IAF will showcase its Chinook transport and Apache attack helicopters for the first time since they were acquired from the US in the last few months.

A Russian-origin Sukhoi-30MKI will perform a spectacular man oeuvre at the end of the flypast.

Here are some of the aircraft taking part in the flypast:

Chinook helicopter

The CH-47 Chinook made by Boeing is an advanced multi-mission helicopter that has unsurpassed ability to deliver heavy payloads to high altitudes, and is eminently suitable for operations in the high Himalayas. The aircraft has been battle-tested in diverse and extreme conditions throughout the world, and has proven its capability to operate in a wide range of conditions that typify the Indian subcontinent.

Apache attack helicopter

Manufactured by Boeing, the Apache AH-64E attack helicopters are also known as “tank busters”. The Apaches are equipped with Hellfire missiles and rockets. Each helicopter has the capacity to carry eight such missiles. It also has a canon gun that can fire 1,200 rounds at a time, with which two missile pods carrying 19 missiles each can be fixed. It has seen action in Iraq and Afghanistan flying for the US Air Force.

 

Hercules transport aircraft

The C-130J Super Hercules made by Lockheed Martin provides significant performance improvements and added operational capabilities that translate directly into increased ground and air combat effectiveness. Some of these attributes include the ability to operate out of 2,000-feet-long dirt strips in high mountain ranges, and the ability to carry tonnes of supplies more than 4,500 km away to remote operating bases, keeping trucks off dangerous highways.

C-17 Globemaster III

Made by Boeing, the company says the C-17 Globemaster III carries is “always dependable and always ready”. A high-wing, four-engine, T-tailed military transport aircraft, the multi-service C-17 can carry large equipment, supplies and troops directly to small airfields in harsh terrain anywhere in the world. The massive, sturdy, long-haul aircraft tackles distance, destination and heavy, oversized payloads in unpredictable conditions. It has delivered cargo in every worldwide operation since the 1990s, says Boeing on its website.

Jaguar

The Jaguar is a twin-engine, single-seater deep penetration strike aircraft of Anglo-French origin which has a maximum speed of 1350 kmph (Mach 1.3 or 1.3 times the speed of sound). The Jaguar carries two 30 mm guns and can carry two missiles over the wing and 4,750 kg of bombs and fuel.

MiG-21 Bison

The MiG-21 Bison is a highly upgraded version of the Soviet-era fighter jet. At least 110 MiG-21 jets were upgraded in 2006 to MiG-21 Bison. The upgrades include equipping it with powerful multi-mode radar, better avionics and communications systems. From carrying ‘dumb bombs’, the MiG-21 Bison also got the ability to carry a wide range of guided munitions. Its air-to-air combat effectiveness also improved considerably after it was fitted with the R-73 Archer short range and R-77 medium range anti-aircraft missiles.

MiG-29

The MiG-29 is a single-seater interceptor of Russian origin that has been upgraded to perform multirole missions in air-to-air and air-to-ground mode equally well. Popularly known as “Baaz” (eagle), the IAF’s MiG-29s flew air-dominance and escort missions to protect strike aircraft while they dropped laser-guided bombs on terrorist fortifications atop hills during the Kargil War in 1999.

Mirage 2000

The Mirage 2000, built by Dassault Aviation that also manufacture the Rafale, is a delta-wing fighter jet that has proven its reliability with the IAF with its impressive service record in the Kargil War in 1999 and the air strike at a terror camp in Pakistan’s Balakot in February. The Mirage 2000 still remains the go-to aircraft for the IAF as it’s one of the most versatile platforms anywhere.

Sukhoi-30MKI

The Sukhoi-30MKI is a two-seater multirole fighter jet of Russian origin that can carry up to 8,000 kg of external stores such as bombs, fuel and missiles. It is capable of carrying out a wide range of missions using long-range air-to-air missiles. It can reach speeds up to Mach 2.35, or 2.35 times the speed of sound. Many Sukhoi-30MKIs have been upgraded at the 11 Base Repair Depot in Ojhar in Maharashtra.

LCA Tejas

The Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas together with its variants is the smallest and lightest multirole supersonic fighter aircraft of its class. This single engine, compound delta wing aircraft is designed and developed by the Aeronautical Development Agency, and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited along with partners such as Defence Research and Development Organisation, among others.

In September, the naval variant of the homemade LCA Tejas became the first aircraft in India to successfully perform an “arrested landing”, in what is being billed as a major step in the programme to make the jet ready for service with the Navy. In about two seconds, the Tejas-N decelerated from 244 kmph to standstill by snagging the wire on the test runway with the hook attached to the jet’s fuselage. It took just 87 metres for the jet to come to full halt during the test at Goa’s Shore-Based Test Facility.

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