New Delhi: The Indian Air Force is celebrating its 85th Air Force Day with a large parade. A series of air displays will be organised at the Hindon air base near Delhi.
The day is being observed in the shadow of the helicopter crash in Arunachal Pradesh on Friday that killed seven military personnel on board. Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa is likely to refer to this loss when he addresses his air warriors later this morning.
The Mi-17 V5 chopper was on an air maintenance mission at an altitude of 17,000 feet when it crashed, according to the Air Force. The helicopter was flying to Yangtse to drop off kerosene jerry cans at an Army camp. Those who died included to a Wing Commander and a Squadron Leader.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi wished the IAF in a tweet, "On Air Force Day, best wishes to our courageous air warriors & their families. Their determination & prowess ensure that our skies are safe."
President Ram Nath Kovind also tweeted, "On Air Force Day, I salute the valour, commitment & dedication of our brave air warriors. They safeguard our skies."
The event will be marked with band marches, parades and Chakra formation flypast.
Air Force chief BS Dhanoa had on Thursday said his forces are prepared to effectively counter any threat from China while confronting a two-front war also involving Pakistan. Referring to the Doklam standoff, the Air chief said Chinese forces are still present in Tibet's Chumbi Valley and have not withdrawn completely.
On Saturday, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman visited the Jamnagar Air Force Station and took first hand information about the role and nature of operations undertaken by the Indian Air Force at the air base.