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Sunday, Oct 20, 2019

Rafale pilot’s slow pass at Aero Show to pay tributes to Surya Kiran pilot

Rafale fighter jet flew at a lower speed at the Aero India 2019 show that took off in Bengaluru on Wednesday.

india Updated: Feb 20, 2019 14:45 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
Rafale fighter jet flying during Aero India 2019 show in Bengaluru on Wednesday.
Rafale fighter jet flying during Aero India 2019 show in Bengaluru on Wednesday.(ANI)

Rafale combat aircraft flew at lower than its normal speed at Aero India 2019 on Wednesday, news agency ANI reported, as a mark of respect to Wing Commander Sahil Gandhi, the pilot of the Surya Kiran Aerobatics Team who lost his life in a plane crash a day ago. The five-day long biennial event took off in Bengaluru this morning.

A mid-air collision of two planes on Tuesday during rehearsal led to the death of Wing Commander Sahil Gandhi and injury to two more pilots, who ejected to safety. The Surya Kiran Aerobatics Team stayed away from the event.

Video clips of the incident showed two jets crashing to the ground and bursting into flames near Yelahanka airbase after brushing against each other mid-air.

Also Watch: Bengaluru Air Show pays tribute to martyred IAF Wing Commander


Rafale fighter jet that India is purchasing from France under an inter-governmental agreement signed in 2016 has been a subject of controversy with opposition parties led by the Congress accusing the BJP-led NDA regime of corruption in the defence contract.

Also Read | ‘Oh my god’: Video shows last 40 seconds of Surya Kiran crash in Bengaluru

Congress president Rahul Gandhi has led the opposition charge targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleging that he is “personally involved” in corruption. Gandhi alleges that the original Rafale deal, which was being negotiated during the UPA rule, was scrapped by the Modi government to benefit industrialist Anil Ambani, whose Reliance Defence is an off-set partner of the Dassault Aviation, the manufacturer and supplier of the Rafale fighter jets.

The government has denied the allegations leveled by the opposition parties. PM Modi and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman have said on several occasions that the previous deal was non-workable forcing the government to sign a new agreement with the French government.

Earlier in the day, Sitharaman inaugurated the 12th edition of Asia’s premier air show, where she invited investors to capitalise on the ecosystem in aero space and defence manufacturing in India.

Sitharaman made a strong pitch for Make in India programme of the government saying 100 per cent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in defence manufacturing makes it lucrative proposition for investment.

The Aero India’s official website said a total of 61 aircraft would be on display and 403 exhibitors would be part of the biennial event.

First Published: Feb 20, 2019 11:58 IST

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