From the era of Wapitis, Toofanis to the modern machines such as Rafale, Sukhoi, it has come a long way

Hyderabad: The Indian Air Force (IAF) is in the process of transformation through replacement of obsolescent fleet and weapon system along with up-gradation of existing ones.

From its humble beginning in the year 1932 with an aim to secure Indian air space and conducting aerial warfare during any conflict, the IAF today stands tall as the fourth largest air force in the world. The IAF will celebrate its 87th anniversary on October 8.

The transition from the era of Wapitis, Toofanis and the Spitfires to the modern era flying machines like Rafale, Sukhoi-30, Mirage, Chinook, Apache, C-130 and C-17 aircraft, speaks volumes of its professionalism and ability to keep pace with time and technical advancements.

Interacting with media persons here on Tuesday to inform about the IAF activities in Dundigal, Air Force Academy Commandant Air Marshal AS Butola highlighted the onerous task of the academy in transforming the raw civilians into the disciplined military officers and leaders of future generation.

He also touched upon various facets of training and qualities ingrained into the cadets to make them professionally competent to execute their assigned responsibilities in defence of the motherland.

The IAF has women pilots for nearly 30 years in the transport and helicopter streams. But in 2016, the IAF paved the way to shatter the ultimate glass ceiling and open up the fighter flying stream for women.

Over the years, the IAF has evolved into a professional force which has showcased its mettle and operational competence in front of the world and has made the nation proud through its valour in wars and compassionate professionalism during natural calamities.

These feats would not have been attained without contributions and sacrifices of crème-de-la-crème of air warriors who pass out from the academy with flying colours. In order to keep pace with the rapid modernisation, it is imperative that all personnel of IAF adapt themselves to the rapidly changing inventory and associated high technology and this context, training stands paramount importance, according to IAF officials.

‘Cadets Are Trained For Accidents’

Instructors explaining about the simulator through which training is imparted to the cadets at the Air Force Academy in Dundigal.

The accidents related to aircraft might occur due to technical failure or at times could be human error itself. These accidents occur despite best efforts, said Air Force Academy Chief Operations Manager MK Misra here on Tuesday.

Replying to a question after a power-point presentation on various activities of the academy, he said the inherent risk was always there in flying.

“God never made us to fly. God never made us to drive motor vehicle. The way incidents happen on the road when you are driving a car and some similar rules apply in the air as well,” he explained.

He said a lot of care was taken to ensure that the weather and environment was absolutely fit. “Weather has to be fit for training. Likewise there are thousand actions which are being taken by the IAF,” he said.

“But there could be an occasion where you meet with a bird and that bird might go inside the engine or particular equipment fail in the air. We train for that as well,” he said.

The academy would train cadets, officers and all pilots to tackle that emergency. “Let’s say bird hit happen and flames come out of engine. What will happen? These are actions which are there in our mind and read out when you wake up in the night,” he said.

Pilots Trained To Escape Enemy’s Territory

Suitable training is being given to pilots on survival and escape in case they eject in enemy territory, according to Air Force Academy Chief Operations Manager MK Misra.

When his attention was drawn to Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who ejected MiG-21 he was flying, he said the Basic Technic was when a pilot happens to eject out in enemy territory, he must try to hide himself in the daytime and try to escape at night.

“That is basic training which we give them,” he said. There are certain survival items with the pilot like a gun which may have eight to 12 rounds and others facilities such as water and food in his survival bag.

With available equipment, the pilot should be able to survive. If a pilot eject at night, no one will catch him and he can get away. Unfortunately, he (Abhinandan) ejected in the daytime and he was in the hands of villagers.

In fact, Abhinandan was lucky as Pakistan Army came immediately because villagers didn’t know that he was an officer from India otherwise they might have hurt him. The moment a prisoner is caught, the rules of Geneva Convention apply and the prisoner was supposed to get full respect, which actually happened, he added.