IAF phases out Mi-8 helicopters

The Indian Air Force's Soviet era Mi-8 helicopters were phased out of service in a ceremony at the Yelhanka Air Force Station here on Sunday.

MI-8, called Pratap, had been the backbone of the IAF's medium lift combat capability.

The MI-8 helicopters arrived in India in 1971 at Bombay and were formally inducted in the IAF helicopter inventory in the year 1972. Between 1971 and 1988, 107 were inducted and served for 45 years.

The MI-8 formed 10 operational helicopter units and it operated in several major IAF operations including Operation Meghdoot in the Siachen Glacier and Operation Pawan in Sri Lanka. The helicopter also operated extensively in humanitarian and disaster relief operations across the length and breadth of the country. It was also used for ferrying VIPs and VVIPs for decades.

"MI-8 through its glorious service career, did not just establish itself as a mainstay of the helicopter operations but also left an indelible mark on the future by providing the Indian Air Force with a lineage of professional helicopter aircrew," an official statement said.

The phasing out ceremony was attended by veterans headed by former IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major (retd), who flew the last MI-8 mission along with CO 112 Helicopter Unit.

IAF Training Command chief Air Marshal S.R.K. Nair, was the chief guest at the event. national Defence Academy Commandant, Air Marshal Jasjit Singh Kler, the senior most MI-8 pilot, was also present on the occasion.


-IANS