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Home / India News / 2007 / May 2007 / May 11, 2007
Eyes Of the Nation Canberra bids adieu from IAF
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Eyes Of the Nation Canberra bids adieu from IAF

The jet bomber that destroyed adversaries since 1957 and continued its run till the 1999 Kargil War today finally bid adieu from the Indian Air Force, completing a historic 50 years of service.

By Sudhakar Jagdish

Agra, May 11: The jet bomber that destroyed adversaries since 1957 and continued its run till the 1999 Kargil War today finally bid adieu from the Indian Air Force, completing a historic 50 years of service.

The moment was 'nostalgic' for many war veterans who had assembled here to see the aircraft that had helped them to achieve many gallantry awards. And for a few, the aircraft brought back memories of martyred soldiers.

"I have just come to touch it for the last time," said Retired Group Captain J P Gupta, who had flown the bomber during the 1965 Indo-Pak War and bombed enemy's bunkers across the border.

"This is a proud moment for me, I flourished with this on battlegrounds, and now to say goodbye is a sad moment also," he added.

However, Shaurya Chakra winner Group Captain A Perumal, who had successfully managed to land the bomber at the Srinagar airfield, in spite of being hit by a missile during 1999 operation "Safed Sagar" in Kargil, was in no mood to say the final good-bye to the most 'user-friendly' aircraft.

"This aircraft can still go on for next twenty years. It has been the most user-friendly aircraft that I have ever seen in my life," he said.

Introduced into the Indian Air Force in 1957, the British origin twin-engine jet bomber was first used for reconnaissance and well as bombing purpose in December 1961 when it had to launch an operation against the Portuguese stationed on the Dabolim airfield in Goa.

"The operation was a completely one sided one and I would not say it as a major test for the bombers," said Group Captain (Retired) Gupta.

The wars of 1965 and 1971 against Pakistan showed the bomber's reliability and precision, when it devastated numerous targets like the Karachi Oil Complex.The 1962 Sino-India War was the biggest omission in the career of Canberra bombers in India where the entire IAF was not pressed into service.

"We urged the political establishment to use the air force, but they did not relent," said Wing Commander (Retired) J Nath, the oldest living person awarded the Mahavir Chakra Bar.

"I had flown fifty feet above the Aksai Chin during 1962 for air reconnaissance and I guarantee you if we had used the Canberra bombers the result would have been quite different," he added.

During the 1962 war against China, India suffered serious setbacks and the Chinese forces occupied a large part of Aksai Chin.

Though the phasing out of the Canberra has left a few officials 'perturbed' as according to them this aircraft can still be used in some of the operations.

Chief Of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major, who witnessed the final flypast today, justified the phasing out, saying," It is a sad moment, but it has to go".

"There has been difficulty in acquiring spare parts for the aircraft and new technologies have arrived, " Air Chief Marshal Major added.

As the aircraft that was designed in World War II era made an exit thereby bringing curtain down on its resplendent glory, it is likely to enter the school campus where the young generation can feel the might and the strength of this bomber that helped India achieve some of its greatest victories.


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