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Singapore Airshow 2024: IAF’s Sarang helicopter display team working hard for aerobatics display at Singapore Airshow 2024

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Indian Air Force’s Sarang helicopter aerobatics team is working hard to put up a good show with their daring manoeuvres over the weekend at the Singapore Airshow to showcase a spectacular display of flying skills and aerobatics, a senior official said on Friday. The five-day Singapore Airshow is being held from February 20-25 at the Changi Exhibition Centre and has over 1,000 participating companies from more than 50 countries and regions, according to organisers.

Singapore’s people can expect a spectacular display of flying skills and aerobatics from the Sarang team of the Indian Air Force (IAF) over the weekend at the mega gathering.

A team of 71 personnel of the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) Sarang Helicopter Display Team will participate in the mega event with five Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH), also known as ‘Dhruv’.

“The 71-strong team is working hard to put up a good show for the people of Singapore,” Group Capt Ashish Moghe, Public Relations Officer (PRO), Sarang, told PTI on Friday.

The Sarang team is honoured to be in Singapore to represent the Indian Air Force in one of the world’s biggest airshows, he added.

The team arrived in Singapore on February 12 and performed two shows on Tuesday and Wednesday at the airshow. Its first international display also took place in the city-state for the Asian Aerospace Airshow in 2004. Underlining the deep cultural and defence ties between India and Singapore, Capt Moghe said, “We endeavour to further strengthen these ties and to win the hearts of the kind and generous citizens of this prosperous city-state.” He explained that the Sarang’s challenging manoeuvres are Dolphin’s Leap, Cross Over Break, Double Arrow Cross, Mesh, Level Cross, Sarang Heart and Sarang Split.

He said that while it is natural to expect daring manoeuvres and precise formation by fixed-wing aircraft, it is notably challenging to do the same in helicopters owing to the unstable nature of rotary wings.

“One would find only a handful of helicopter display teams across the globe, and this makes the Sarang Helicopter Display Team unique,” said Capt Moghe.

“The team is performing a four-helicopter display designed to highlight the Advanced Light Helicopter agility and manoeuvrability, as well as the high degree of skills of the IAF pilots flying these machines.”

The Sarang Helicopter Display Team has evolved from the ALH Evaluation Flight, which was formed in Bengaluru in 2003, to evaluate the indigenous helicopter ‘Dhruv’ before its induction into operational service.

“True to its name, the ALH has been a guiding beacon, standing out like the Pole star in the Indian Aviation sector,” said the Group Captain.

Manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Dhruv is featured in the five-day Singapore show for the very first time.

All the military services of India operate the indigenously manufactured ALH and its advanced variants. The successful induction and operational utilisation of this platform is one of the glowing success stories of self-reliance (Atma Nirbharta) in the defence sector, said Capt Moghe.

In June 2004, the Flight was converted into 151 Helicopter Unit and the fledgling team was rechristened ‘Sarang’, which in Sanskrit means Peacock, the National bird of India.

“The synchronised aerial ballet of four brightly painted metal birds draws comparisons with the graceful Peacock,” elaborated Capt Moghe.

Apart from the primary role involving Display Flying, the unit serves as an instrument to project our national power. Amongst various op-roles, the unit has participated in several operations towards Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR).

The team was at the forefront of HADR missions in Uttarakhand during the flash floods of 2013, wherein the unit helicopters rescued close to 1000 people and inducted 12 tonnes of relief material at altitudes over 10,000 feet in inclement weather and hazardous terrain.

The unit has also been involved in providing succour to the people affected by floods in its area of responsibility from time to time; rescue and relief operations in Chennai, Dindigul, Tirupati and Nellore are a few worth mentioning.

In the recent past, the team was one of the first responders for HADR missions during Cyclone Okhi on December 17, the devastating floods in Kerala on August 18 and the Tuticorin floods in December 2023.

More than 60,000 people are expected to explore the showground at the Changi Exhibition Centre, where static displays include commercial and military jets and two 45-minute aerial performances daily.

Besides Sarang, the 2024 iteration of the airshow features foreign flying teams, from the Indonesian Air Force’s Jupiter aerobatic team, the Republic of Korea Air Force’s Black Eagles, and the Royal Australian Air Force’s Corkscrew.

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