IAF to fly its Mirage in Vayu Shakti 2019

Last Updated 12 February 2019, 18:24 IST

Two weeks after a fatal crash, Indian Air Force's Mirage-2000 fighter jets are all set to fly in Vayu Shakti, 2019 – a firepower demonstration to showcase the combat capability of the men in blue.

The IAF has decided to fly the French origin fighter because the Accident Investigation Board didn't find any problem with the jet, which is being flown by the IAF for more than 30 years.

Asked if it's a standard drill to halt the flying of a particular type of aircraft in the wake of an accident, a senior IAF official explained that such a decision depended on the AIB report.

There were instances when the AIB ordered the suspension of flying for an entire fleet but also at times there were cases when such a step wasn't taken.

Following the AIB report, four Mirages will be in action at Pokhran where Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will witness IAF's firepower for close to two hours on Saturday.

“As many as 137 aircraft will participate in Vayu Shakti 2019, making it one of the IAF's biggest firepower demonstrations,” IAF Vice Chief Air Marshal Anil Khosla said here on Tuesday.

On February 1, an upgraded Mirage 2000 aircraft crashed on the edge of the HAL airport in Bengaluru killing two young pilots - Sqn Ldr Sameer Abrol and Sqn Ldr Siddartha Negi. It was the sixth sortie for the jet and the flight was a part of the acceptance trial.

A court of inquiry is on to find out the exact cause of the accident.

Half a dozen indigenous Tejas light combat aircraft will also fire their weapons at Pokhran by launching its air-to-air missile as well as air-to-ground rockets. The front guns of the LCA, however, won't fire this time.

Vayu Shakti 2019 comes three years after the last firepower demonstration in March 2016 and a year after the hugely successfully Exercise Gagan Shakti where the air force demonstrated its ability to fight a two-front by quickly moving the troops from the western front to the east.

However, unlike the last edition, the President and Prime Minister wouldn't be in the audience this time.

(Published 12 February 2019, 15:35 IST)

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