Monday, 1 October 2012

IAF to unveil radar plane, choppers

Asian Defence News India will showcase its latest Air Force acquisitions -- an indigenous airborne radar plane and a Russian-origin cargo helicopter -- at this year's Air Force Day parade that marks its 80th anniversary, a week from now.

"This year, the Indian Air Force (IAF) completes its 80 years. We will showcase our latest acquisitions such as the indigenous Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft and the Mi-17V5 cargo chopper at the Air Force Day parade, Oct 8," an IAF officer told a news agency on Sunday.

The Air Force Day parade will be held at Hindon air base in Ghaziabad district on the outskirts of the national capital. IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Norman Anil Kumar Browne will take the salute of the air warriors and address them, he said.

The AEW&C radar, based on a modified Brazilian Embraer plane, will be on static display at the Air Force Day parade, providing the background to the air warriors on parade, while three Mi-17V5 will fly over the parade ground in a Vic formation trooping the national flag and the air force ensign.

This will be the first time the two assets of the IAF will be on public display. The parade will also witness a flying display of other air assets such as the Mi-25 and Mi-35 attack helicopters, C-130J plane for special forces, and MiG-21, MiG-29, Mirage-2000 and Su-30MKI combat jets.

The crowd that gathers for the parade will be deprived of the Surya Kiran aerobatics team display as the unit stands temporarily disbanded after its Kiran MkII planes were diverted for rookie pilot training in 2011.

The AEW&C plane was inducted into the IAF on September 20 at Bangalore, after it was earlier received and flown to India in August this year from Brazil.

The indigenous AEW&C will enable the nation to deploy an alternative electronic eye in the sky to the three IL-76-based Israeli Phalcon radars the IAF currently operates.

This is the first of the three aircraft from Embraer for which a USD 400-million contract was signed in 2008.

The country also plans to have a fleet of 10 indigenous AEW&Cs in future to augment the three IL-76 platforms.

The most-modern Mi-17V5 helicopter is the IAF's latest buy from Russia, to ramp up the ferrying of troops and supplies to remote and mountainous areas.

The helicopters, 80 of which were bought in 2008 for USD 1.34 billion, started arriving in September 2011 and were inducted in February this year at the Palam air base in the national capital. The first lot of helicopters is currently deployed in Bhatinda, Punjab.

The Mi-17V5 falls in the category of an armed helicopter, with substantial and effective firepower. It is an upgraded version of the Mi-17 medium-lift category that the IAF operates.

The Mi-17s can carry troops and supplies to remote helipads close to India's border posts, while the fixed-wing Soviet-era IL-76 and AN-32 transport planes fly only up to airfields.

Russia has till date delivered nearly half of the 80 helicopters that is on order. Once all the 80 helicopters are delivered by 2014, India may order another 59 of these choppers at a cost of $1 billion.

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