Chief of Air Staff Addresses Pacific Air Chiefs Symposium at Hawai
Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa was on an official visit to the US from September 26-28 to attend Pacific Air Chiefs Symposium at Hawai. The visit was intended to further strengthen the existing defence cooperation between the air forces of the participating countries in the Pacific region. In addition to the hosts, there were Air Chiefs from 18 countries including Australia and Japan attending the Symposium.
During his stay at Joint Base Pearl Harbour – Hickam, Hawai, the CAS addressed the Air Chiefs from various air forces attending the Symposium. In his talk he dwelled on the IAF’s perspective on the challenges to regional security. The Symposium was aimed at strengthening relationships, enabling engagement in productive exchanges and promote understanding of joint issues and challenges. Discussions also took place on air perspective in the maritime domain along with issues like counter-insurgency.
The visit of the IAF chief would provide further impetus towards increasing defence cooperation between the Pacific region air forces and pave the way for greater interaction and cooperation in future.
A week before that (September 19-22) he went on an official visit to Australia. The visit was intended to further strengthen the existing defence cooperation between the air forces of the two countries.
During his stay, the CAS held talks with top brass of the Royal Australian Air Force on security challenges being faced by the two forces in the current geopolitical scenario and explore ways to deepen defence cooperation. The main focus of the visit was on improving bilateral relations, promoting defence ties and exploring further areas of defence cooperation between the two air forces.
During the visit, the CAS also visited the Headquarters of Royal Australian Air Force and operational air bases.
Indian Air Force Airlifts Relief Material to Bangladesh
As the mass exodus of Rohingyas from Myanmar has turned into a humanitarian disaster, Indian government decided to assist Bangladesh by sending relief material to the country to deal with the heavy influx of Rohingya refugees. The government tasked the Indian Air Force (IAF) with airlifting the relief material from India.
One C-17 Globemaster strategic heavy lift cargo aircraft was positioned at short notice in Delhi on September 13 to airlift 55 tonnes of relief material to Chittagong, Bangladesh. The aircraft was loaded overnight with relief material consisting of critical daily necessities including rice, pulses, sugar, salt, cooking oil, ready to eat meals, mosquito nets, and other items.
The aircraft carrying relief material departed early morning on September 14 and routed via Kolkata to pick up additional load, which was later delivered in Chittagong, Bangladesh the same day.
The UN Human Rights Commission has criticised Myanmar’s treatment for Rohingyas saying that the “situation seems a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.
Remembering a Retired Warhorse
September 1 marked 60 years of induction of the English Electric Canberra in the IAF. It was the first-generation Jet Bomber manufactured in large number through the Fifties. The prototype of Canberra first flew in May 1949 and in January 1957 the aircraft was selected by the IAF to equip its bomber and strategic reconnaissance fleet. The Canberra Jet bomber was first inducted into the IAF in No. 5 Squadron (Tuskers) at Agra on 1 September 2017.
When political turmoil broke out in Belgian Congo in 1961, UNO requested India for strike aircraft. Within five years of serving the IAF, on 9 October 1961, under the command of Wing Commander AIK Suares, six Canberra aircraft of No 5 Squadron took off from Agra for Leopoldville, over 6,000 km away to join the United Nations’ Multinational Force in the Congo. This was the first ever-Indian fighter-bomber contingent to take part in UN operations. The offensive operation in Congo earned the Squadron two Vir Chakras, one Vayu Sena Medal and five Vishisht Seva Medals.
The Canberras took part in all major operations including the liberation of Goa in 1961, the 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars, 1987 Op Pawan in Sri Lanka, 1988 Op Cactus in Maldives and 1999 Kargil war. On 18 December 1961, Canberras of No 16 and 35 Sqn bombed the Dabolim airport forcing Portuguese forces to surrender. The Canberra last saw action in the Kargil war in 1999 where it flew recce missions, during one of the mission one aircraft’s engine was hit by a missile. The sturdy Canberra could survive the enemy’s missile attack and landed safely with all vital information. During its service, Canberra provided invaluable photo reconnaissance inputs of enemy territory during war and peace time operations, resulting in accurate and effective operations. After 50 years of glorious service to the nation on 11 May 2007 at Air Force Station Agra, the IAF bid adieu to its legendry old war horse.
Rescue of US Citizen from Leh by IAF Helicopter
On September 26, the IAF was requested by the US Embassy through ministry of defence to help in locating and rescuing of US citizen Margaret Allen Stone. Stone had set out for trekking in the Ladakh region and had been held up in Zhingchan area at a distance of 75 km from Leh since September 6 due to injury. Her condition had deteriorated during this prolonged period because of lack of care. She was in a critical condition. The US government informed the IAF of the situation in the afternoon hours on September 26.
The IAF responded to the situation with requisite alacrity. Exact location of Stone was ascertained with the help of civil administration and by evening two IAF helicopters were able to locate her in the valley. She was brought to Leh hospital for medical care by the evening.
AOC-in-C Visits Air Force Station Faridabad
Air Marshal C Hari Kumar, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief (AOC-in-C), Western Air Command, visited Air Force Station Faridabad on August 31. He was accompanied by Devika Hari Kumar, President Air Force Wives Welfare Association (Regional).
The AOC-in-C reviewed the operational preparedness of the station and was briefed on the future plans by Gp Capt. Kaushik Das, Station Commander, Air Force station Faridabad. He assessed the security preparedness of the station and emphasised on the need to maintain high state of vigilance in view of the prevalent security scenario. He also visited Air Force dog training school, which is one of the finest dog training schools of Indian armed forces.
The Air Marshal also interacted with the personnel of the station and complimented them for their efforts, resulting in optimum and efficient functioning of the station. Devika Hari Kumar, President AFWWA (Regional) visited the welfare ventures run by AFWWA (Local) and interacted with the AFWWA Sanginis.
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