Being with the ‘Force’
A summary on the Air Fest-2017 conducted by the Indian Air Force
By Nityasri U (B.E. Mechanical Engineering, 2016-20)
To choose to fight and protect is brave. To be braver is to do both while flying high. The air fest organised every year provides us a chance to meet these ‘winged’ heroes.
On the 18th of January 2017, the Indian Air Force (IAF) hosted the Air Fest at the IAF Station at Sulur for the civilians, especially students. The Air Force station was visited by around 3000 enthusiastic students from various schools and colleges from Coimbatore. The Aero club of PSG Tech, a union of aeronautics enthusiasts, took the initiative to organize a trip to the air fest for interested students. About 67 students from the Aero Club and 60 students from the NCC grabbed the golden opportunity to visit the base. Separate stalls were set up to provide platforms for discovering new career opportunities, inspiring the students and introducing them to the machines and aircraft used by the defense forces.
The Transport Aircraft and Workhorses:
The Antonov AN 32, which is the ‘backbone of the IAF’s medium-lift capabilities ‘, was one of the aircrafts stationed at the fest. Made in Russia, it serves as a transport aircraft that is capable of lifting about 6.7 tonnes of mass and has been in delivery since 1984. Yet another transport aircraft, the Hawker Sidley 748 (HS 748), which is locally known as ‘Chitra’, was stationed at the base. It is a multipurpose turboprop aircraft manufactured by the British firm ‘Avro’ and is used for the transportation of troops and freight, for air surveillance and as a navigator. The Mil Mi-17 v5, made in Russia, which was one of the chief aircrafts used in rescue operations like the infamous Uttarakhand disaster (Operation Rahat) and the disastrous Chennai floods (Operation Madad), stood majestically on the ground as the students looked at it in awe. It is one of the most advanced medium lifter aircrafts owned by the IAF right now.
The technicians were proud to talk about the indigenous aircraft owned by the Air Force. The Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) stood in all glory. Most of the aerobatic activities by the ‘Sarang’ display team are carried out using the HAL Dhruv. “The LCA fighter Tejas by HAL, which is expected to make its debut on the Republic day, is coming to the base soon“, said one of the organizers. “Join the air fest we organize next year and we will explain about it in detail“, he added.
(Source : www.indianairforce.nic.in – The official website of the Indian Air Force)
The Rohini Radar, produced by Bharat Electricals Limited, is a fully automated 3-dimensional mobile radar used for surveillance, detecting and tracking. The Crash Fire Tender by Bharat Earth Movers Limited, which is used by the IAF to extinguish fire in the event of air crash, was also displayed. The crowd cheered as the officers of the Special Forces descended the rope from a helicopter, demonstrating the fast-roping technique of deploying troops.
The GARUD Commando Force:
The Air Force uses Unmanned Air Vehicles (commonly known as drones) for surveillance from long distances and Laser Target Designators to designate targets before firing. A separate stall was set up for the display of few common guns and rifles used by the IAF special force. The viewers stared at the machines in amazement, for they were things that a common man could have seen only in Schwarzenneger’s movies or in Call of Duty games.
The Galil Sniper Rifle, made by the Israel Weapon Industries (IWI), was the centre of attraction. This sniper is semi-automatic and has a high degree of accuracy. TAVOR, another assault rifle made by the IWI, is the standard weapon for the IAF. The most popular AK 47 is still in use and continues to dominate the weaponry. Machine guns that are capable of holding large magazines and firing multiple rounds are also used by the crew. A sample Light Machine Gun that can be employed by a single soldier was displayed for the public to see.
What do our airmen say?
The students were awed watching the young officers clad in their crisp uniforms. Amidst the demonstrations, we got the opportunity to interact with some of our heroes and learn about their life at the Air Force.
“At the base, our days are hectic with rigorous schedules. Everybody has a list of tasks to complete every day and by dusk, we get exhausted “, said Mr Manoj Jajhria, who has been working as a technician at the base for three years. “Passing the SSB and completing the training is easy. It takes a lot of grit and perseverance to survive here. One has to work for about 11 hours a day and should be on-call all the time “, stated officer Prabha Shankar.
“Though serving the nation gives us immense pride and pleasure, the going gets tough at times. I have seen a helicopter, with my friend inside, crash right in front of me and I still shudder, thinking about it. “, said Leading Aircraft man, Mr Vijay Kumar. Despite the inconveniences and accidents, they face, the officers agreed that their daring spirit and the love for adventure keep them sailing and added that they look forward to continue their work at the Air Force in the years to come.
The air fest threw light on the various aspects of the defense system, inspiring several students to dream of a career at the armed forces. As we look at our young soldiers, our hearts are filled with pride and respect for them. Let us take a moment to appreciate their efforts and value their services for a lifetime and more.
Nityasri.U (BE MECHANICAL 2016-2020) is a utilitarian, realist, introvert and a keen observer. She loves to listen to people, read books, watch movies, soaps and cricket. Being a very enthusiastic traveller, she hopes to travel to a lot, walk on the roads that haven’t been taken and discover new places.
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