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First AWACS aircraft lands at Jamnagar air base in Gujarat

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Indian Air Force’s AWACS platform aircraft touches down at the Jamnagar air base on Monday.
Indian Air Force’s AWACS platform aircraft touches down at the Jamnagar air base on Monday.

Special Correspondent

First of three specialised aircraft for IAF to be formally inducted on Thursday

NEW DELHI: The first of three Indian Air Force AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) platform aircraft touched down at the Jamnagar air base in Gujarat on Monday afternoon, flying in from Israel.

The giant Il-76 configured in its new version was escorted by three MiG-29 and Jaguar aircraft each. The fighter formation took off from an advance fighter airbase of the South Western Air Command (SWAC). They caught up with the AWACS mid-air and escorted it as it entered the Indian Flight Information Region, till it made it home safely, IAF spokesman Wing Commander Tarun Kumar Singha said here.

Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, SWAC, Air Marshal K.D. Singh, Air Defence Commander Air Vice Marshal P. Singh and the AOC Jamnagar, Air Commodore C. Hari Kumar and air warriors of the air base welcomed the crew of the aircraft. The crew included the Commanding Officer of the first AWACS squadron, Group Captain B. Saju.

Their maiden touchdown on Indian soil marked the first landing of AWACS aircraft at an IAF air base. “It was a great feeling to be escorted by our fighters and it feels really good to be back,” Group Captain Saju said here on arrival. It was flown by a full complement of IAF pilots belonging to a newly formed squadron from the Ovda International airport in southern Israel. The eight-and-a-half hour flight skirted several countries. It flew over the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea before landing at Jamnagar.

The aircraft is expected to reach Palam airport on Tuesday. A formal induction ceremony is scheduled on May 28. The aircraft will operate from the Agra air base under the Central Air Command as part of the extended fleet of the Il-76 family.

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