(DNA) : Be prepared to hear loud roars of fighter jets every night. The Indian Air Force’s (IAF) Sukhoi-30MkI air dominance fighters have just stepped up their night flying, and will continue to do so in the coming days.
This was disclosed to media persons by Wing Commander B Satish, commanding officer of the 30 Squadron (The Rhinos) at the IAF base at Lohegaon on Tuesday. The media visit had been organised as part of the Air Force Day celebrations, to be held on October 8 across the country.
Satish, who took over the squadron recently, said that night flying had been increased to further hone the flying capabilities of the pilots. The Pune IAF base is arguably the most important of all bases in the country as it has three fighter squadrons of Sukhoi-30MkIs (Squadrons 20, 30 and 31).
Satish said, “Night flying adds considerably to the physiological stress in a fighter pilot. But night time expertise is important to put down enemy airfields and fighter aircraft with pin-point accuracy.”
Not only are the Sukhois flying every night, but as many as eight Sukhois took part in war games last week assisted by a state-of-the-art AWACS (airborne warning and control system) aircraft from Agra, which specially flew down from Uttar Pradesh and went back the same night.
Explaining the exercise to media persons in the special briefing room, Squadron Leader Shanmukha said how four Sukhois ‘fought’ four Sukhois over the airspace covering
Pune-Ahmednagar-Solapur. Such exercises are extremely important in honing the fighting capabilities of pilots.
“Exercises such as these are followed by exhaustive de-briefing sessions, when mistakes are analysed threadbare. This is the only way we are able to improve our skills,” Shanmukha said.
Later, Flight Lieutenant Thakurdas explained the immense manoeuvrability of the Sukhoi jet when he showed media persons an aircraft from up close. Pointing to the special canards (small, additional wings near the cockpit) and the two nozzles in the rear of the aircraft, Thakurdas said that these helped the Sukhoi-30MkI turn 360 degrees like a helicopter in a split second. “This adds to the dominance of the aircraft in the air,” he said.
Finally, the journalists were taken inside the IAF managed air traffic control (ATC) room where three young Air Warriors with ear phones sat glued to their screens receiving and issuing instructions rapidly. Squadron Leader Johar told the media that the ATC works 24/7 and was fully controlled by the IAF.
“As the Pune air base is used by both civilian and military aircraft, our ATC team has to converse with both groups. The language used during the radio telephony is consistent with international standards,” Johar said. The Pune air base sees as many as 100 take-offs and landings every day of civilian and military aircraft.