The show-stealer, however, was the indigenous light combat aircraft Tejas

GHAZIABAD: The newly inducted Chinook heavy lift helicopters and Apache attack helicopters were showcased for the first time on Sunday at a full rehearsal for the 87th Air Force Day celebrations at the Hindon airbase on October 8.

Chinook heavy lift helicopters kicked off the flypast in a batch of three at the rehearsal, which showcased 67 aircraft and helicopters. “It is for the first time that the IAF is showcasing Chinook helicopters, inducted into the air force in March this year,” an IAF official said.

“The advanced multi-mission CH 47F(I) will provide an edge to the IAF in operations for disaster relief, medical evacuation, search and rescue and aircraft recovery … The all-weather chopper is equipped with state-of-the-art night vision goggles will allow operations at night,” the official added.

The dual rotor helicopters, acquired with customisation to suit the wide range of Indian terrain, will boost operational capabilities in high altitudes like the Himalayas. Armed forces of 19 countries deploy the Chinook, which can carry heavy cargo (like road construction material, heavy machinery, artillery guns or light armoured vehicles) over difficult terrain.

Next in line was the Apache attack helicopter, flying past the parade ground in a batch of three. The Apache AH-64E (I) is the latest entrant in the IAF arsenal, inducted at the Pathankot air base last month. It is the most advanced Apache variant, also flown by the US Army. “It can shoot fire-and-forget anti-tank guided missiles, and is equipped with air-to-air missiles, rockets and other ammunition. It is also endowed with early warning capabilities,” the official said.

The show-stealer, however, was the indigenous light combat aircraft Tejas, which flew past the parade ground at a speed of Mach 1.6 (or 1,975 km per hour). The Tejas, in which Union home minister Rajnath Singh recently undertook a sortie, is a single-engine multi-role supersonic fighter aircraft. The 75-ton heavy lift cargo aircraft, C-17 Globe Master, flanked by two Sukhoi-30s, followed with a deafening sound. Other fighter planes that the parade showcased were the Jaguar, MiG-21 and the Mirage 2000 (used by the IAF in the Balakot strike).

Moving on from fire power, manoeuvre capabilities of the Sarang helicopters came next. Six Sarang HAL Dhruvs performed thrilling aerobatic manoeuvres, criss-crossing the skies and veering dangerously close to each other before zooming off. In the final manoeuvre, the Sarang display team drew a heart in the sky with a trail of white smoke. The Surya Kiran aerobatics team performing death-defying manoeuvres in the diamond and delta formations.