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Air Force bids an emotional farewell to MiG25s
Bareilly: An era came to an end in Indian Air Force history on Monday, when one of its most powerful planes, the MiG25, was phased out.
Presiding over the ceremony tinged with emotion, Air Chief Marshal Shashindra Pal Tyagi, the Chief of Air Staff, and other senior IAF commanders bid farewell to the 35th MiG 25 Squadron based at the Bareilly Air Force Base, putting the lid on 25 years of meritorious service in protecting the Indian skies.
Talking about the Blackbirds and the U2s of the US Air Force that had become redundant, Air Chief Marshal Tyagi said that better technology had to and would take the place of the MiG25s.
Better known as strategic reconnaissance aircrafts the MiG25 aircrafts successfully touched the stratosphere of glory during their 25 years of existence.
"It's according to need. There's no longer any need to fly these planes. This plane had the capability of other things too, besides reconnaissance, like electronic intelligence also. There are two types of satellites. One that flies at heights which have powerful cameras and the others which fly at low orbit which do not have very powerful cameras. For high-level reconnaissance, new cameras have come, which even we possess. Like digital cameras, when the plane flies, the photos taken can be seen down below. This is high-level reconnaissance. At the lower level Jaguar and Mig-27 conduct tactical reconnaissance.
In between all this there are Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) also which also takes photos. There is a complex arrangement from top to bottom; there would be scope for photographs, electronic intelligence and signals intelligence. Amidst all these types og intelligence, there's no requirement of MiG25s," said Air Chief Marshal Tyagi.
Wing Commander S.K.Taliyan carried out the last sortie. Wearing the special suit worn while flying the aircraft, he reported to the Chief of Air Staff after handing over the Form 700, which is the servicing booklet of the aircraft (a closing document) to the Commanding Officer of the squadron, amidst the tune of 'Auld Lang Syne'.
The phasing out ceremony began early morning with parade display of the various components of the aircraft like engine and the fuel tank of the aircraft which can contain five ton fuel which is more than the capacity of a Boeing-737.It was an emotional moment for all those who have been associated with aircraft since its inception on August 25,1981, during the tenure of former Air Chief Marshal Idris Hassan Latif.
"It's a very emotional moment for us. After 25 years of glorious service of touching the stratosphere with glory, it is phasing out today. It is a very deep emotional moment for us," said Wing Commander S.K.Taliyan.
There are only 42 pilots in the Indian Air Force to have flown this plane.
The first batch of pilots to be trained were Wing Commander A.J.Singh, Squadron Leaders D. Lazarus, S.L.Sud, J.S. Grewal, besides Flight Lieutenants R.E.Ketkar and Lt B.S.Khalsa.
"When you fly at those altitudes there's a sudden change in environment. Now, you see the sky as blue, when you go to those heights the sky is dark. You can see the stars during the day-light, you can see the curvature of the earth. Then you suddenly feel you don't belong to this earth, you don't want to come down to land. You want to stay there. There's a distinct feeling of aloofness that you don't belong to this earth," said Air Vice Marshal J.S.Grewal (Retd), one of the pilots of the pioneering batch, which trained in the then Soviet Union.
Master Warrant Officer (MWO) Desraj, the technical maintenance person who received training in the USSR and has served with the aircraft ever since said that he had no words to express his feelings. He was emotional on account of the decommissioning as he had seen the aircraft right from the beginning and had served in it.
Six of the eight MiG25s will be flown to the National Defence Academy, the Air Force Academy, AFS Kalaikunda, AFS Hindan, AFS Palam and AFS Jodhpur to be installed and preserved as heritage pieces to inspire future officers during training. Two were lost in accidents.