Aerobatic team Surya Kiran set to fly into sunset

SOURCE : DNA INDIA

The Surya Kiran aerobatic team (SKAT) of the Indian Air Force (IAF) will perform for the last time at the biennial air show, Aero India, in Bangalore to be held from February 9-13, before being disbanded.Citing shortage of aircraft for training purposes, a source told DNA that these aircraft will go back to be used for training and all officers associated with SKAT will either get posted out at other stations or will act as instructors at Bidar Air Force Station in Karnataka.

Formation aerobatics has been a part of IAF aviation history since establishment, and the SKAT was formed to project the might and professionalism of the IAF all over the world. The SKAT was a successor of the earlier display team, the Thunderbolts of the early 1980s.

Raised in 1996, the squadron based in Bidar acquired squadron status in 2006. The SKAT have performed all across the country and in China, UK, Germany, Laos and Sri Lanka.

The squad has 13 pilots out of whom nine perform at any given time. These display aircraft have enthralled audiences with their manouvers, since their inception in 1996. Senior and experienced fighter pilots are chosen to be part of the prestigious SKAT, which uses the IAF’s basic HJT-16 Kiran Mk-2 trainer aircraft.

These aircraft will be used to carry out the basic weapons training for IAF cadets. Since the basic trainer HPT-32 has been grounded owing to engine failure, the service has been going through a shortage of basic trainers.

Former air chief FH Major said, “For a while the aerobatics team won’t be there, but training is also important, and as and when the shortage improves, we can always have another team by the Hawks.

Presently there are pilots with experience on the Mirage 2000, Jaguar, MiG-23, MiG-27 and MiG-29. All are qualified flying instructors with about 1,000 hrs of experience on the Kiran itself, and 2,000 hours on other fighter jets.

To perform all these hair-raising manoeuvres requires tremendous concentration, grit and determination to take the aircraft to the extremes of its envelope.

The most popular and also the most dangerous formation of the SKAT has been of the nine aircraft taking off in a V-shaped formation of three and joining up in close formation, manoeuvring between speeds of 150 and 650 km per hour with their wing tips a mere 5 metres apart.

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Posted by pilotpaul on Feb 4 2011. Filed under All News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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