The Indian Air Force is concerned about pigeons posing a dangerous safety hazard to its combat aircraft at a frontline airbase which is soon to accommodate Rafale jets, reports ANI.
“In recent times, there are some locals who are breeding pigeons in their houses. These are in close vicinity to the IAF airfield. These birds are posing a threat to our fighter jets,” said IAF sources.
A complaint has been registered by IAF officials with the local administration over the flocks of birds breeding near the base in connection with a recent incident involving a Jaguar aircraft.
Apparently, the birds showed no fear of the loud noises as one of them flew directly at the plane’s engine.
IAF sources said they were taking the danger to their combat aircraft very seriously and insist that measures are taken to stop the birds from being bred by resident so close to the air base.
According to IAF officials, last week, an IAF Jaguar pilot on a training mission had to jettison his plane's fuel tanks after one of the fighter's engines failed after being hit by a bird.
The pilot managed to land the plane safely as small practice bombs dropped by the plane were successfully recovered.
Praising the pilot's composure in a dangerous situation, the air force also released a 48-second video of the jet’s impact with the birds and the pilot’s skilled maneuver that saved the jet, his life and the lives of civilians living in the vicinity of the airfield.
In the video, the fighter plane is seen flying surrounded by a flock of birds a few seconds after takeoff.
India is set to officially receive its first Rafale fighter jets in September this year, with a ceremony reportedly being planned in France to officially hand over the cutting edge combat jets to the air force, reports The Economic Times.
The modern fighters, to be armed with SCALP ground attack missiles with a range well over 300 km, will be flown by Indian pilots in France for at least 1,500 hours as part of the testing and acceptance process.
As part of the contract, Indian pilots will be undergoing extensive training using the jets in France, initially on simulators.
Rafale fighter jets will start arriving at the Ambala Air Base positioned along the western border with Pakistan from May 2020 and will be installed in the 17 squadrons there.