Indian Air Force celebrates its 79th birthday this October 8

Indian Air Force celebrates its 79th birthday this October 8

An insight into the city's defence units in the run-up to the Air Force Day on October 8

As the Indian Air Force celebrates its 79th birthday this October 8, the Ministry of Defence has provided an insight into its organisations in the city that makes up an essential part of the Indian Air Force. October 8 is observed as Air Force Day across the country.

Defence authorities took mediapersons on a visit to their units in the city recently, starting with the Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE) located near the Wind Tunnel Road in Murgeshpalya.

Among ASTE's functions are testing and evaluating airborne system as per the Air Staff Qualitative Requirements (ASQRs), assisting the development programmes of institutions like Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

A little known fact about the organisation is its role in the rejection or acceptance of an aircraft and its weapons systems. It has a crucial say in the trials and upgrade of the fighter aircrafts like Jaguar (Darin II) to Darin III, MIG 27 and Sukhoi-Midlife Super 30, among others. Since 1949, ASTE has lost (sacrificed) over 30 test pilots, with Flight Test Engineer Squadron Leader Ilayaraja losing his life as recently as 2009 near Bangalore while testing the Saras PT-2 (second prototype).
Famous names

ASTE, whose alumni include Wing Commander Ravish Malhotra and Squadron leader Rakesh Sharma has an Air Force Test Pilots' School (AFTPS) that awards an M. Tech. in Flight Test Engineering.

Institute of Aerospace Medicine, the other organisation works towards ensuring the mission safety and operational efficiency of the Air Force pilots. It has an instrument laboratory for testing oxygen systems, partial pressure suits, and hyperbaric chambers.

Certain special disabilities like air sickness, orthopaedic disabilities, and poor +Gz and post-ejection tolerance are evaluated here.

The Air Force station in Yelahanka serves as a premier transport and helicopter training centre of the IAF. It is involved in training of pilots, navigators of Air Force, pilots of navy and coast guards on fixed wing aircraft and has grown in stature from its humble beginnings in 1963.

The annual International Aero India shows have added to its popularity.

The Fixed Wing Training Faculty (FTWF) is entrusted with the task of conversion training of transport pilots and navigators of the Indian Air Force, besides undertaking operational commitments assigned by the IAF and Air headquarters.

Another unit is the station maintenance organisation, The Preservers, extends maintenance services to large fleets of different varieties of transport aircrafts namely AN-32, HS-748(AVRO), Dornier-288 aircraft, Mi-8 among others. In addition, this organisation provides maintenance support to all the visiting aircraft and aircraft of 416 air force station.

The operations support group that includes Air Traffic Services (ATS) and MET (Meteorological Department) is a vital defence unit in the city.

Also called the nerve centre of the station, the ATS coordinates with the Bengaluru International Airport and HAL on space sharing. The ATS squadron handles approximately 20,000 hours of flying each year, which supposedly is the highest in Asia.

MET provides accurate metrological observations and forecast for all aircraft operations and ensures timely issue and dissemination of all the weather warnings.

The 112 Helicopter Unit, also known as the Thoroughbreds, presented a demo of Mi-8 helicopters' winching operations during casualty evacuations and rescue sorties. These helicopters also perform the under slung operation that deals with supply of essential commodities and relief material at places inflicted with natural calamities and other disasters.

Thoroughbreds have been involved in mercy missions such as the 1975 earthquake at Shimla and Chandigarh, flood relief in various States like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. They had a heroic role in providing relief measures during the 2004 tsunami in the country.

Source: Staff Reporter / Bangalore, October 4, 2011 - www.thehindu.com

Photo Story: HEROES IN WAR AND IN PEACE: ASTE ground staff directing an Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft to the hangar at the Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE), inside the HAL airport in Bangalore recently. Photo: K. Murali Kumar



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