• 120 aircraft from 10 locations to fly
  • C-295’s maiden flight in an IAF Day Parade
  • MiG-21’s last flight in an IAF Day Parade

By Sangeeta Saxena

New Delhi. 03 October 2023. It will be a parade with a difference when Indian Air Force planes roar over the holy city of Allahabad nee Prayagraj above the confluence of the three rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati popularly called the Sangam. IAF will be celebrating its 91st birthday with the traditional parade and flypast and keeping in sync with the new policy of roaming raising days of the three forces , the venue this time is Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh.

A city which has had an airforce station for very long is all set to host Indian Air Force’s biggest event- The Air Force Day. The banks of the Sangam river which host the holy congregation of the Kumbh Mela, are all set to witness the biggest showcase of Indian air power. An area of 10 kilometers around the Sangam will be a no-fly and no-drone zone when the fighters, transporters and helicopters of the IAF fly over the waters above the confluence of the three rivers.

This will be an AirForce Day with one welcome and one goodbye. The force just a week back inducted the European transporter C-295 made by Airbus into it’s fleet which will be flying over Allahabad skies both on 6th & 8th of October.

But the news which is nostalgic for not only the force but also for the nation was given by the Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari at the annual press conference, “We will stop flying the MiG-21 fighter aircraft by 2025 and we will replace the MiG-21 squadron with the LCA Mark-1A. The same proposal is in place. In another month or so, the second squadron will get number-plated and we will follow with the third one sometime next year. The induction of the LCA Mark-1A will fill the gap of these outgoing MiG-21s.” India has 113 MiG-21s still operative and IAF chose to purchase the MiG-21 in 1961 over a number of other Western rivals. The Soviet Union agreed to give India complete technology transfer in exchange for rights to local assembly. 1965, 1971 and 1999 all three wars against Pakistan saw them in full operations.

During the media briefing, Group Captain Prajyot from Central Air Command, disclosed that there will be 120 fighter aircraft operating from 10 air bases. These will include IAF fighters Rafale, Sukhoi, Mirage, Jaguar, MiG-29, MiG-21, LCA, trainer Hawks, Kirans, helicopters ALH, LCH, Apache, Chinook, Chetak, transporters C-295,  C-130J, C-17, IL-78, AN-32, Dornier,  Vintage Dakotas, PC-7, Tigermoth & Harvard and P8-I of the Indian Navy.