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India for peace, but will use might to protect itself: President Ram Nath Kovind

Kovind awards President’s Standard to two IAF units at Indian Air Force Station at Adampur; also visits Golden Temple, Durgiana Temple and Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar.

punjab Updated: Nov 17, 2017 16:15 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times, Adampur (Jalandhar)
President of India,Ram Nath Kovind,IAF units
President Ram Nath Kovind at the Air Force base in Adampur on Thursday.(Pardeep Pandit/HT Photo)

President Ram Nath Kovind Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday said while India was fully committed to peace, it would use all its might to protect the sovereignty of the nation.

At a function at the Indian Air Force (IAF) Station, Adampur, near here to present the President’s Standards to the 223 Squadron and 117 Helicopter Unit of the IAF, Kovind also complimented the air warriors for their “impeccable turnout and smart movement”.

President Ram Nath Kovind at the Air Force base in Adampur on Thursday. (Pardeep Pandit/HT Photo)

“India’s rise in the international system has many dimensions to it. But it draws heavily from the capabilities and valour of our armed forces,” he said. The President said citizens slept securely because they knew the forces were there to protect them.

“Though we remain firmly committed to peace, we are determined to use all our might to protect the sovereignty of our nation. Each time we have had to do so, our valiant men and women in uniform have risen to the occasion,” an official release quoted the President as saying.

The 223 Squadron, or the Tridents, was formed on May 10, 1982, in Adampur. It was initially equipped with the MiG-23, which was later upgraded to the formidable MiG-29 fighter aircraft. The squadron has a remarkable operational record.

The 117 Helicopter Unit, or the Himalayan Dragons, was raised on February 1, 1971, at Air Force Station, Bareilly.

The unit gained its initial experience in the India-Pakistan War of 1971, on the Eastern theatre. It moved to Hasimara in 1983 and flew extensive air maintenance and casualty evacuation missions in the Northeast. The unit moved to the Sarsawa Air Force Station in January, 1988.

The President also released the first-day covers of 223 Squadron and 117 Helicopter Unit.

A fly past by MiG-29, ALH and Mi-17 helicopters was synchronised with significant events of the parade. The parade was followed by a spectacular display of precision and daredevilry by the Air Warriors Drill Team.

Speaking on the occasion, Kovind congratulated both the awardee units and complimented the personnel for the excellent parade.

He said the nation is proud of the capability and competency of the IAF. “The excellent performance of its personnel in international exercises, both at home and abroad, is indeed a glowing testimony to the level of training and preparedness of the air force.”

“The Indian Air Force, besides safeguarding the sovereign skies of our nation, has also been at the forefront of all humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations. The resilience and tenacity displayed by our valiant air warriors is a great source of pride for the nation,” the President said.

The grand ceremony concluded with a breathtaking air show by the Sarang and Surya Kiran Aerobatic Team.

Punjab governor V P Singh Badnore, state cabinet minister Rana Gurjeet Singh, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, Chief of the Air Staff; Air Marshal C Hari Kumar, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Western Air Command; along with other senior defence and civilian dignitaries were present on the occasion. (With inputs from agencies)

Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa rubbishes allegations of Congress, refers Rafale Jet purchase best deal

Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa refuted the claims of the Congress government regarding the Rafale fighter jet deal on Thursday. Terming the deal as best, Dhanoa said, “There were no overprice in purchasing of Rafale fighter jets.”

“It is lower than what was there in the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) contract. We have followed a government-to-government contract and are getting the 36 fighter jets at a good price,” Dhanoa said on the sidelines of a function at Adampur here.

Answering a query over the difference of more than the triple amount in revised deal, he said he does not have the exact amount. Dhanoa refused to comment on Congress allegation that BJP government is favouring Reliance with this deal. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and spokesperson Randeep Surjewala had alleged that the BJP government had purchased the aircraft at three times the amount, (₹526 crore to ₹1570 crore, for an aircraft) and the technology will not be transferred to India.

When asked why the technology was not being transferred to state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), which was included by the earlier UPA government, Dhanoa said, “The technology will first come to Defence Research and Development Organisation.” He also ruled out any aircraft shortage.

First Published: Nov 16, 2017 13:59 IST