Bengaluru (Karnataka): The Indian Air Force bid adieu to the MI-8 helicopter, also known as the PRATAP in the phasing out ceremony held today at the Air Force Station, Yelahanka in Bengaluru.
MI-8s served for 45 years after their induction into the Indian Air Force helicopter inventory in 1972, and is currently being phased out. The MI-8 helicopter arrived in India in the year 1971, in Mumbai. Between 1971 and 1988, the IAF inducted 107 MI-8 helicopters, rechristened as the PRATAP.
PRATAP was inducted in ten 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. The MI-8 has also been associated with VIP/VVIP flying for over decades.
PRATAP has also been the backbone of medium lift combat capability of IAF and served as an ideal platform for graduation of professional Medium Lift Helicopters (MLH) aircrew from No. 112 Helicopter Unit (112HU), the alma-mater of all MLHs.
112HU, based here at the Air Force Station, Yelahanka, is the last unit to operate this formidable platform, and has a record of passing out 119 pilot courses, 89 Flight Engineering courses and 57 Flight gunner courses.
The phasing-out ceremony of PRATAP was concluded at the sunset, and was attended by veterans headed by Air Chief Marshall (Retd) Fali Homi Major PVSM, AVSM, SC, VM, ADC. He flew the last MI-8 mission along with CO 112HU.
Air Marashal SRK Nair PVSM, AVSM, VSM, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Training Command, IAF was the chief guest on the occasion. Air Marshal Jasjit Singh Kler, VM, Commandant NDA, the senior most MI-8 helicopter was also present on the occasion. (ANI)