Having made their last flight in the IAF’s colours, it’s worthwhile to recall the history of the MiG-21 FL, a model meant for export to the third world. In the early 60s, the government decided to purchase the Soviet Union’s MiG-21 supersonic aircraft, a second-generation fighter over several Western contenders to counter emerging threats. Transfer of technology and full rights for indigenous manufacture were also obtained. Heavy investments were also made in building the aircraft’s maintenance infrastructure and pilot-training programmes.
Production of MiG-21 FLs started at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Nasik, in1966 with the assembly of completely knocked down (CKD) kits, then progressing to subassemblies, parts and finally to full manufacture. As many as 205 of these aircraft designated as Type 77 and nicknamed as Trishul were built till 1972.
Numbers 1, 3, 4, 8, 28, 29, 30, 45, 47 and 52 Squadrons flew and fought with the type. This version was also flown by the MiG Operational Flying Training Unit and the Operational Conversion Unit. Inadequate numbers of the aircraft and trained pilots prevented the MiGs from playing an important role in the 1965 War, but 1971 saw them becoming the mainstay of the IAF’s strike force.
Initially inducted as an interceptor armed with only two air-to-air missiles, the aircraft’s low endurance (it can fly only for over a little more than an hour) did not prevent the IAF from adapting it for ground attack. The aircraft played a vital role in the IAF’s attainment of air superiority on both fronts. As they fly into the sunset, fighter pilots recall its high speed which gave it the killer edge to make it the unquestioned champion of the subcontinent’s skies.
Cavalry Officers’ Association
Old comrades’ organisations are sources of great bonding, nostalgia and visible symbols of ‘esprit de corps’ the indefinable quality which is the bedrock of the army’s time-tested regimental system. Officers of the Armoured Corps, both serving and retired, bond together in the Cavalry Officers’ Association. Like others, the association works through chapters located in various cities throughout the country.
The highlight of the body’s activities is the annual Cavalry Weekend organised at Delhi in the second week of November. Wreath-laying at the cavalry memorial outside Teen Murti House, a cavalry memorial lecture and sports comprise some of the activities. The main spot of the weekend is the cavalry dinner, which with its lance jawans in colourful full dress and officers in blue patrols presents a vibrant image of the armoured corps. The annual newsletter ‘Post Horn Gallop’ is always a delight to read.
The Chandigarh chapter is currently headed by Major General GS Malhi, who started his career with 7th Cavalry, commanded 5 Armoured Regiment and the President’s Bodyguard.
Women’s parking at Chandimandir
On a recent visit to Western Command, Chandimandir, I noticed a separate parking for women employees’ scooters in the building itself. This was separate from the general parking. Kudos to the army for maintaining its women-friendly policies!
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