Chandigarh: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated the first-of-its-kind Indian Air Force (IAF) Heritage Centre here on Monday and said it is a testament to the courage and dedication of all those who served in the force and a reminder of their invaluable contributions in protecting the nation.
He further said this initiative will help in preserving the rich heritage of the IAF and also inspire the youth to join the armed forces.
The centre has been set up under a memorandum of understanding between the Union Territory of Chandigarh and the IAF which was signed last year.
Punjab Governor and Chandigarh Administrator Banwarilal Purohit, Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari, Chandigarh MP Kirron Kher were present on the occasion.
On this occasion, Defence Minister Singh sat in the MiG-21 aircraft on display at the centre. He also sat in a flying simulator.
The centre is spread over 17,000 square feet. Its exhibits will be a source of inspiration for future generations and will showcase the indomitable spirit of the Indian Air Force, officials said.
Later, the defence minister tweeted the country’s first IAF Heritage Centre has been dedicated to the nation.
“This centre is a testament to the courage and dedication of all those who have served in the IAF and a reminder of their invaluable contributions in protecting the nation,” he tweeted.
“This Centre depicts IAF’s role in various wars, including in 1965, 1971 and the Kargil war, and the Balakot air strike through murals and memorabilia. This Centre will be a big attraction not only for the people of Chandigarh but also for the people living in other states,” he stated.
This wonderful initiative will help in preserving the rich heritage of the Indian Air Force and also inspire the young minds to join the armed forces, Singh said in another tweet.
The minister also unveiled a plaque for the centre for cyber operation and security (CenCOPS).
Speaking to reporters later, Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari said on the opening of the heritage centre, “It is a proud moment for us.”
“I am sure it will draw a lot of youths to join the IAF once they visit this,” he said.
Divided into various sections, the heritage centre has several attractions such as aircraft models, aero engines and weapons, including Gryazev-Shipunov twin-barrelled guns.
The centre also showcases augmented reality, hologram, virtual reality, and electro-mechanical enclosures, interactive kiosks highlighting various facets of the IAF, the officials said.
There are also flying simulators at the centre which will give flight experience to visitors.
The attractions of the heritage centre also include five vintage aircraft and SAM-III Pechora missiles.
A Hindustan Piston Trainer-32 primary flying trainer aircraft has been on display at the centre. Its period of operation in the Indian Air Force was 1977 till 2009. A MiG 21 single seat fighter has also been positioned.
Besides, Air Force Kanpur 1 which was made by Air Vice Marshal Harjinder Singh in 1958, has been positioned. A GNAT aircraft (Sabre Slayer) 1971 fame is also on the display.
The centre also has a special segment which has been dedicated to women officers in the IAF for their contribution to the service of the nation.
The centre also has scale models of Netra aircraft, Parchand helicopter, Mi-26, MiG 29, indigenous Tejas fighter aircraft, C-130 J Hercules, MKI Aerial refueller, Sukhoi SU-30 MKI, advanced light helicopter Dhruv and Integrated Air Command and Control system workstation.
The centre displays the glorious history of the IAF with the help of murals depicting its various war campaigns starting with the role of the force in the Indo-Pak war of 1948 to electro-mechanical 3D-dioramas depicting its latest operations such as the Balakot air strike.
An audio-visual gallery will present the journey of the IAF through time, tracing its evolution from its inception to the modern day as well as promotional movies.