|Arthur Dominic Villasanta |||Apr 25, 2017 09:43 AM EDT|
(Photo : IAF) Sukhoi-30MKIs of the Indian Air Force.
The first Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter squadron to open fire on Pakistan during the 1999 Kargil War now operates the Sukhoi Su-30MKI heavy, all-weather, twin-engine, long-range fighter well-suited to taking the fight to the enemy.
The famous No. 221 Squadron (Valiants) stationed at the Halwara Air Force Station close to the India-Pakistan border, received the Russian-made fighter equipped to IAF specifications at impressive ceremonies whose guest of honor was Air Marshal C Hari Kumar AVSM VM VSM ADC, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Air Command.
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Air Marshal Kumar formally handed over the official documents of the squadron to Wing Commander HS Luthra, Commanding Officer, No. 221 Squadron. The squadron, which was organized in 1963, formerly flew Mikoyan MiG-23 variable geometry fighters/interceptors.
The Air Marshal congratulated the squadron's pilots on the timely induction of the Su 30 MKI, and expressed his appreciation at the tireless efforts put in by all the personnel of the base.
Indian military analysts noted the presence of another IAF squadron equipped with the Su-30MKI will boost the offensive capabilities of the IAF in this sector. Sharing the air station with 221 Squadron is No. 220 Squadron (Desert Tigers) also equipped with the Su-30MKI.
Both fighter squadrons are part of No. 34 Wing. An IAF fighter squadron operates from 16 to 18 combat aircraft.
Halwara Air Force Station is situated near the town of Halwara in Punjab. The air base was established in 1950.
The Su-30MKI (NATO reporting name: Flanker-H) was developed by the Sukhoi Company and built under license by India's Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd for the IAF.
The first Russian-made Su-30MKI was accepted into the IAF in 2002, while the first indigenously assembled Su-30MKI entered service in 2004. The IAF had 230 Su-30MKIs in service as of February 2017.
The Su-30MKI will remain the backbone of the IAF's fighter fleet well beyond 2020.
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