Published: August 6, 2010 18:27 IST | Updated: August 7, 2010 04:10 IST

Mission to restore glory of Gnat

R. Madhavan Nair

The Hindu
The Gnat combat aircraft being taken for restoration from a cultural centre in Kozhikode.

A group of retired Indian Air Force personnel has come forward to restore to its full glory a Gnat combat aircraft that has been gathering dust in front of a cultural centre in Kozhikode.

Since the Gnat fighter aircraft was once the showpiece of the IAF, it is quite natural for retired personnel of the IAF to be dismayed by the sight of a rusted Gnat aircraft, says P.M. Mani, secretary of the Kozhikode chapter of Air Force Association.

The members of the association are now busy renovating the old Gnat aircraft kept at the S.K. Pottekkat Cultural Centre at Puthiyara here.

"Ex-sentinels of the sky cannot but be excited by the sight of an old Gnat," said Mr. Mani.

This aircraft was first developed by Folland Company in the U.K. to guard the frontiers. The then Defence Minister V.K. Krishna Menon and the then High Commissioner Vijayalakshmi Pandit had taken the initiative to buy 88 Gnats.

Later Gnat was manufactured at Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. in Bangalore and the new version was renamed 'Ajeet'. IAF personnel view Gnat as a small sleek combat aircraft that pilots can manoeuvre easily to dodge hostile aircraft during dog fights in air.

Indian pilots had won all-round appreciation by flying these aircraft in the 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars. These fighter aircraft were called "sabre slayer" as they were used to destroy Sabre jets of Pakistan in the war.

"So we want this Gnat at the S.K. Pottekkat Cultural Centre to be restored to its full glory before the Independence Day programmes on August 15," said Mr. Mani.

Engaged in the restoration work at the S.K. Pottekkat Cultural Centre are president of the Kozhikode chapter of Air Force Association Flight Lieutenant T. Ramachandran Nair, warrant officers P.V. Asokan, Sasi Kumar, Sergeant K. Karunan, and Ramesh Babu, and secretary of the association P.M. Mani.


Renovated Gnat Fighter Unveiled

Last Updated : 11 Oct 2010 12:01:06 PM IST

KOZHIKODE: GNAT Fighter Aircraft, which was once a showpiece of the Indian Air Force, was unveiled at S K Pottekkatt Cultural Centre here on Sunday after renovation. The fighter aircraft was rusting due to lack of proper maintenance. It was renovated by a group of retired personnel of the Indian Air Force.

Kozhikode Chapter of the Indian Air Fnrce Absociadion paid homage to Flying Officer Nirmaljith Singh Sekhon, who was honoured with Param Vir Chakra for his fatal defence of the Srinagar Air Base during 1971 Indo-Pak war. A family get-together of the association was also organised in which, 200 members participated.

The group of retired IAF personnel came forward to give wings to the Gnat aircraft a few months back when they noticed the showpiece of IAF gathering dust in front of the Cultural Centre.

The work was initiated by the Kozhikode chapter of the Air Force Association. According to P M Mani, secretary of the association, it was unendurable for the ex-sentinels to witness a fighter aircraft rusting.

Developed by Folland Company in the UK to guard their frontiers, Gnat was later brought to India by the then Defence Minister V K Krishn` Menon and dhe then High Commissioner Vijayalakshmi Pandit. They had bought 88 Gnats Fighter Aircraft.

Later, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd started to manufacture and the aircraft won apprebiation for the Indian pilots in the Indo-Pak wars in 1965 and 1971.A Sujanapal, president of SK Cultural Centre, presided over the function. N P Abdul Azeez, Zila Sainik Welfare Officer, unveiled the portrait of Nirmaljith Singh. T Radhakrishnan, Group Captain (Rtd), handed over a token amount of `10,000 to the president of SK Cultural Centre. Sgt. Karunan, president of the Kozhikode chapter of Air Force Association, Flight Lieutenant T Ramachandran Nair, warrant officers P V Asokan and Sasi Kumar were also present at the function.

 

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