Aero India 2021: Surya Kirans, Sarangs win hearts; HAL planes dominate air display | Bengaluru News – Times of India
The air display was crowded by HAL-manufactured aircraft in the absence of a big foreign presence. Other than the Rafale — which for the first time flew in Indian colours at Aero India — and the US B-1B Lancer bomber, all other aircraft, including choppers, were from the hangars of HAL.
Chief minister BS Yediyurappa said: “It is a matter of pride for Karnataka and the people of Bengaluru for being chosen to host another edition of the show. Over the years, the state has created a unique infrastructure and ecosystem for holding an event of this magnitude.” Yediyurappa said around 65% of India’s aerospace exports are done from here, while 67% of production also happens in the state.
Defence minister Rajnath Singh, terming Karnataka a progressive and technologically advanced state inspired by people like Basavanna and M Visvesvaraya, said: “The investor-friendly government and infrastructure has made the state an attractive destination. Aero India has become one of the brightest galaxies in the universe of aerospace.”
The inaugural flying display, which usually is a major highlight of the show, was incomparable with the previous editions. It began with three Mi-8 helicopters flying in formation before Singh and others spoke. The actual display started with two ALH maritime choppers and a light utility helicopter flying in formation, followed by a Dhanush formation by light combat helicopter and HAL’s Atmanirbhar formation flight that had the HTT-40, Hawk-i, Sitara (intermediate jet trainer) and Dornier-228.
This was followed by the AeWA&CS and a Vijay formation involving a C-17 and two Su-30 aircraft. Three Rafale aircraft flew past three galleries of people at top speed.
The Su-30 also did a flypast followed by some manoeuvres by LCH, as the Surya Kirans (SK) and Sarangs prepared for take off.
The US B-1B Lancer was then escorted by a Tejas before the much-awaited integrated display started with a wine-glass formation by Sarangs, followed by a diamond formation fly past by SKs. Sarangs performed multiple manoeuvres, including the diamond formation, while SKs performed the Tejas, Sukhoi and delta formations. For the first time since SKs moved to the Hawks, they used smokewinders, through which two of their aircraft drew a heart in the sky.
A nine-aircraft aerobatic team
Surya Kiran (ray of Sun in Sanskrit), is the 52nd squadron of IAF based in Bidar. It is a 9-aircraft aerobatic team. Raised in 1996 on the Kiran Mk II ac, the team enthralled spectators in India and abroad till 2011. In 2015 it was resurrected on the Hawk Mk 132 aircraft. Since then, it has slowly yet steadily built up from a 4ac formation to the current graceful 9ac composite formation followed by the heart-stopping synchro manoeuvring. It is currently procuring and integrating smoke pods to paint the sky all over the world in tricolour.
It has been part of disaster relief ops
Sarang (peacock) team of IAF, which flies four modified HALs Advanced Light Helicopters, was based in Sulur Air Force station in Tamil Nadu before shifting base to Bengaluru in 2009. Apart from display flying, the team has been part of many humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) missions across the country, saved thousands of lives and inducted tonnes of relief material braving inclement weather and hazardous terrain. This is the only Indian aerobatic team to have a woman pilot: Squadron Leader Sneha Kulkarni.