In a first, IAF’s aerobatic team to perform in China

October 29th, 2008 - 8:21 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 29 (IANS) Providing impetus to the growing India-China defence ties, the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) Surya Kiran Aerobatic Team (SKAT) that has enthralled audiences worldwide with its intricate manoeuvres in the skies, reached China Wednesday to perform in that country for the first time.The IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal Fali H. Major, will be visiting China to witness the SKAT’s maiden aerobatic display at the Nov 4-9 Zhuhai Air Show near Shanghai.

“The IAF had received an invitation last year to participate in the Zhuhai Air Show. Defence Minister (A.K. Antony) has approved the participation of the Surya Kirans,” an IAF official said.

India and China fought a brief but bloody border war in 1962. since the late 1980s, they have taken a series of steps to ramp up their relations, including the strengthening of military ties.

“This will be a goodwill trip. Any IAF exercise with China is likely to take place only after that,” the IAF official added.

The Surya Kiran team of 11 aircraft and their pilots have performed in several countries around the world and amazed audiences with its skills.

The Zhuhai Air Show is akin to Aero-India show held at Yelahanka Air Base in Bangalore every alternate year.

“IAF is the only air force which will be carrying out an air display in China. Thus, they are likely to be on the centre stage,” the official said.

On the return leg, SKAT would Nov 17 perform at Laotian capital Vientiane.

Wing Commander J.T. Kurien is the commanding officer of SKAT and the contingent is headed by Group Captain A. Saxena.

Discussions between India and China are also expected here soon to finalise the modalities and venue for joint army exercises to be held in India later this year.

During his visit to the border post of Longewala in February, Antony had stated that the next India-China joint army exercises would be held in India. This would be the second such exercise after the inaugural edition in China in December last year near the city of Kunming.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between India and China in May 2006 during a visit by the then defence minister (and current external affairs minister) Pranab Mukherjee that stipulated that the two countries would hold joint military exercises, join forces in counter-terrorism and anti-piracy efforts and also cooperate in search and rescue operations.

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