The Air Officer-in-Charge Maintenance, Air Marshal K.M. Rama Sundara interacting with the air-warriors during ‘flag-off’ event held before their departure at AF Station Palam, in New Delhi on Thursday.
The Air Officer-in-Charge Maintenance, Air Marshal K.M. Rama Sundara interacting with the air-warriors during ‘flag-off’ event held before their departure at AF Station Palam, in New Delhi on Thursday.
National

IAF contingent leaves for UN peace mission in Congo

NetIndian News Network

New Delhi, June 18, 2009

A contingent of the Indian Air Force (IAF) was flagged off here today to form part of the United Nations Peace Keeping Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
"You are the ambassadors of peace and the nation has very high expectations from you in terms of discipline, integrity and professional standards, Air Marshal KM Rama Sundara, the Air Officer-in-Charge Maintenance (AOM), told the 285 air warriors in the team.
"Your predecessors have set high standards and you should aim to achieve even higher standards," he told the team that will be led by Group Captain Manavendra Singh.
The present IAF contingent is effecting a fourth rotation and replaces an earlier team sent a year back. The contingent will operate six Mi-17 utility helicopters and four Mi-35 attack helicopters from Bukavu, in eastern DRC, an official press release said.
Currently, the IAF operates two aviation contingents from DRC, the other being stationed at Goma.
DRC has been in a state of turmoil since it attained freedom in 1960. Indian Armed Forces have been contributing to peace missions in the strife-torn state ever since and have proved instrumental in bringing a semblance of normalcy to the state.
The twin purpose of the contingent is to provide mobility to the UN staff and forces, while also acting as a deterrent for the belligerent groups trying to destabilize the peace process. Mi-17s would be primarily used for troop insertion and extraction, casualty evacuation, logistic supply, search and rescue, reconnaissance and observation. The primary role for the Mi-35 helicopter, equipped with night targeting system, would be offensive armed support as escort, and independent offensive operations, the release said.
Listing out his priorities on reaching Bukavu, Group Captain Manavendra Singh said, "Among the first tasks is the familiarization of the area and taking charge of the area, getting to know the UN people and operational tasks."
The contingent comprises IAF personnel of diverse specializations including helicopter pilots. "All my pilots are categorized and their flying qualifications revalidated," he added.
Other members include those from the logistics, technical, medical services and pay and accounts. Life at the air base in Sukavu under field conditions is modelled on the lines of regular Air Force bases that exist in India. Apart from a six-bedded hospital, it has facilities such as a gymnasium, games equipment, internet, international dialling, library, movies and music. Normal IAF activities such as drill and physical training will form part of the daily routine during their stay, the Contingent Commander said.
The IAF saga of contributing to UN peace-keeping missions began when it sent a flight of Canberra bomber aircraft as part of the UN Operations in Congo (ONUC) in 1962, the release added.
NNN
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