India Air Force Day 2019: On IAF's 87th birth anniversary, these lethal fighter jets on display at Hindon air base

FP Staff

Today marks the Indian Air Force's 87th birthday anniversary. The mega event organized on Tuesday saw air displays, drills and grand flypast being held at the Hindon Air Station in Ghaziabad. The event commenced with skydivers of the Akash Ganga team dropping out of an AN-32 aircraft in their colourful canopies, bearing the Indian Flag. The flypast included the display of vintage and modern transport aircraft and frontline fighters followed by an aerobatic display. Here is a look at some of the premium aircraft that were part of today's event.


MiG-21 Bison

The aircraft of Russian origin is a single engine, single seater multirole fighter aircraft. AFP

Representational image. AFP

MiG-21 Bison is one of India's six fighter jets. The aircraft of Russian origin is a single-engine, single-seater multirole fighter aircraft. With the maximum speed of 2,230 kilometres per hour, it carries one 23 millimetre twin-barrel cannon with four R-60 close combat missiles. This all-weather multi-role fighter jet is described as the "backbone" of the IAF.

Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who took part in the Balakot airstrike, but was later taken captive by the Pakistan Army after his parachute landed across the Line of Control (LoC), was also flying a MiG-21 Bison when his jet was shot down by Pakistan on 27 February. He was repatriated about three days after he was captured by the Pakistan Army.

In today's event, Abhinandan led a stellar formation during the flypast.

The bison is associated with another defining moment in IAF's history. About a year ago, flying officer Avani Chaturvedi, along with two others, created history by becoming the first Indian woman pilot of the IAF to complete a solo flight. She was flying the MiG-21 Bison.

Chaturvedi, Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh were the three women pilot who had undergone a strenuous training programme to be commissioned as fighter pilots in the IAF in June 2016.


LCA Tejas


File image of Tejas aircraft. PTI

India has long purchased its fighter jets from major defence exporters including Russia, France, US and Britain. But with Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, the nation inched closer to self-reliance in defence sector by building its own fighter aircraft with stealth capabilities.

Tejas is the smallest, lightweight, single-engine, single-seat, supersonic, multirole, combat aircraft designed and developed by the Aeronautical Development Agency, and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited along with partners such as Defence Research and Development Organisation, among others.

It can fire Laser Guided Bombs and can fly non-stop to destinations over 1,700 kilometres away, without needing a refuel. Its Radius of Action is up to 500 kilometre depending upon the nature and duration of the actual combat role assigned to it. The aircraft will enable the IAF to carry out offensive air support missions, forward airfield operations, all-weather multi-role operations, electronic countermeasures and night flying operations.

Tejas is designed to ultimately replace the ageing Mig-21 series of IAF fleet.


Representational image. IAF official website

File image of MiG-29. IAF official website

The MiG-29 is a Soviet-made twin-engine, single-seater air superiority fighter aircraft. India was the first international customer of the Russian made jets. The Indian Air Force placed an order for more than 66 MiG-29s in 1980 while the aircraft was still in its initial development phase. Thirty-three years later, the vintage aircraft's jet structure is still sound and it is expected to last another decade in service if it is upgraded to match modern warfare.

Popularly known as "Baaz" (eagle), the fighter jet is capable of attaining a maximum speed of 2,445 kilometre per hour. With a combat ceiling of 17 kilometres, the jet carries a 30-millimetre cannon along with four R-60 close combat and two R-27 R medium range radar-guided missiles.

In addition, the MiG-29 is known to have substantially better visibility than most previous Russian jet fighters because of a high-mounted bubble canopy that allows 360-degree vision for the pilot.

The aircraft played an important role as the Indian Air Force stamped its supremacy over the Pakistani forces during the Kargil War of 1999.



Mirage 2000

Representational image. PTI

File image of Dassault Mirage 2000. PTI

The Dassault Mirage 2000 is a French multirole, single-engine fourth-generation jet fighter manufactured by Dassault Aviation. Mirage 2000 has nine points for carrying weapon system payloads, five on the fuselage and two on each wing.

The single-seat version is also armed with two 30 mm integral cannons and two matra super 530D medium-range and two R-550 magic II close combat missiles on external stations. The Indian Air Force struck at Jaish-e-Mohammed's biggest terrorist training camp at Balakot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, using 12 Mirage 2000 aircraft.

A Dassault Aviation product, Mirage 2000 took its first flight in 1978 and was inducted in the French Air Force in 1984.

India had placed an initial order of 36 single-seater Mirage-2000s and 4 twin-seater Mirage 2000s in 1982 as an answer to Pakistan buying US-made F-16 fighter jets manufactured by Lockheed Martin.

In comparison, India's other fighter and more advanced fighter jet - the Russia made Sukhoi Su30MKI has a speed of 2120 kmph (Mach 2), slower than the Mirage-2000 and is heavier too. This gives the Mirage-2000 an advantage in quick operations.

The Mirage-2000 played a decisive role in the 1999 war of Kargil and turned it in India's favour.


IAF Jaguar. File image. Picture courtesy IAF

File image of IAF Jaguar. IAF Official Website

The Jaguar is a twin-engine, single-seater deep penetration strike aircraft of Anglo-French origin which is known to have the unique characteristic ability to accurately deliver heavy bomb loads at long ranges, flying low at fast speeds.

The jet has a maximum speed of speed of 1350 km /hr (Mach 1.3). It is equipped with two 30mm guns and can carry two R-350 Magic CCMs (overwing) along with 4750 kg of external stores (bombs/fuel).

These aircrafts have participated in almost all major operations conducted by the Indian Armed Forces including Operation Safed Sagar in 1999 wher Jaguars were used for targeting Pakistani intruders in Kargil.

Right now, India is the only country to have the SEPECAT Jaguar in its fleet.

However, Jaguar in operation in India €" also known as Shamsher €" is quite different from the RAF's Jaguar and are built locally by HAL under a license agreement. It serves IAF as primary ground attack aircraft. IAF recently upgraded its entire fleet of Jaguars by adding Avionics support. The only problem with the Jaguar is its inability to fly high altitude with heavy load on board.



The Sukhoi-30MKI is a twin seater twin engine multirole fighter developed by Russia's Sukhoi built under licence by India's Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the Indian Air Force (IAF).

Two aircraft of this make, flanked by three nimble French-origin Mirage-2000s, flew in what is known as theformed the "Avenger" formation in Tuesday's air show as the spectators below cheered.

The jet is equipped to carry One X 30mm GSH gun in addition to 8000 kg external armament. With the maximum speed of 2500 km/hr it is capable of carrying a variety of medium-range guided air to air missiles with active or semi-active radar or Infra red homing close range missiles.

Also See: Air Force Day 2019: IAF chief RKS Bhadauria recalls success of Balakot airstrike, awards citations to squadron which led counter-terror op

Indian Air Force Day: IAF celebrates 87th birth anniversary with air displays, drills and grand flypast at Delhi's Hindon Air Station

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