Single seat interceptor and air defence/ground attack Gnat ("Pak Sabre Killer") fighter jet

A single seat interceptor and air defence/ground attack Gnat aircraft were among a range of modern versions of frontline fighter aircraft up for display at Ghaziabad’s Hindon airbase on Wednesday as the Indian Air Force (IAF) conducted full-dress rehearsals ahead of the 89th Air Force Day that will be observed on Friday.

IAF officers said that they are also commemorating 50 years of the 1971 war between India and Pakistan as ‘Swarnim Vijay Varsh’. The Gnat aircraft was specially showcased at the Hindon airbase as it played a crucial role during the war.

“The 89th Air Force Day will be celebrated as ‘Swarnim Vijay Varsh’, where the IAF will try to commemorate the victory of the 1971 war. The Gnat aircraft is at static display; it is a tribute to the veterans and heroes of the 1971 war as we celebrate its 50th year,” said a spokesperson from IAF.

On Air Force Day, frontline fighter aircraft will be flying in from different airbases and converging at the Hindon airbase in different formations for the air show.

“Some of the formations are named after specific operations taken up in 1971 and also named after heroes, battles and instances of the war,” said the spokesperson.

During the full-dress rehearsal on Wednesday, the IAF showcased its strength by mixing frontline fighter aircraft with the newly inducted Rafale jets, which are the star attraction this time.

The newly inducted Rafale jets were part of the flying display. One of the Rafale jets was also lined up at the Hindon airbase along with fighter aircraft like Sukhoi-30 MKI, Light Combat Aircraft – Tejas, Mirage-2000, Mig-29 and Jaguar among others.

Spectators were enthralled to see the Rafale, Tejas and Sukhio-30 MKI make low-flying breath-taking manoeuvres and deployed flares to attract the attention of the crowd.

The Rafale aircraft were first inducted into IAF’s number 17 Ambala-based squadron which is also known as ‘Golden Arrows.’

In the previous years, attack helicopters Apache and heavy lift Chinooks, procured from the US, were major attractions while the indigenously built Tejas light combat aircraft has been a part of the air show for almost three years now.

The full-dress rehearsal started with IAF paratroopers para-jumping followed by a scintillating parade by air warriors and flypast by vintage and transport aircraft.

Apart from the frontline fighter jets, IAF’s helicopter fleet having Mi17-V5 choppers, Dhruv - advanced light helicopters, Chinook - heavy lift choppers, Mi-35 and Apache attack helicopters also made their mark during the flypast and many of these were also on the ground for display.

The flypast also saw participation by heavy lift C-17 Globemasters, Dornier and Dakota aircraft. It concluded with flying display by Suryakiran aerobatic team and helicopters of the Sarang aerobatic team.