In a spectacular and groundbreaking event, Bharat Drone Shakti 2023 took flight on September 25, 2023, at the Air Force Station in Hindan, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh. The man at the helm, Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh, officially kickstarted the event that is nothing short of revolutionary. Conceived as a collaborative effort between the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Drone Federation of India (DFI), this two-day extravaganza, spanning September 25 and 26, 2023, has managed to gather over 75 pioneering drone start-ups from every corner of the nation.
These drones, parading their prowess during the event, aren’t mere toys. They are multifaceted marvels designed for both military and civilian applications. Through a mesmerizing array of aerial and static displays, the IAF and DFI are aiming to thrust forward the government’s grand vision of positioning India as a paramount drone hub by 2030.
The inauguration of Bharat Drone Shakti 2023 wasn’t the sole attraction of the day. It was followed by a grand spectacle, the formal induction of the first C-295 MW transport aircraft into the IAF. This induction ceremony was not just a formality; it was a deeply spiritual affair, featuring a ‘Sarv Dharm Puja’ to bless the aircraft. Attendees were then treated to a comprehensive briefing on the aircraft’s capabilities. This medium-lift tactical marvel, with its ability to take off and land on unprepared landing grounds, is destined to replace the aging HS-748 Avro aircraft.
Raksha Mantri, in a social media proclamation (formerly Twitter), radiated confidence about the C-295’s impact on the IAF’s medium-lift tactical capabilities. He went on to underscore the significance of the defense and aerospace sectors, hailing them as the twin pillars destined to propel India towards self-reliance in the years ahead.
Of the 56 contracted aircraft, the first batch of 16 will be delivered to the IAF in a ‘fly-away’ condition. The remaining 40 will see the light of day through the skilled hands of Tata Advanced Systems Limited, at their facility in Vadodara. It’s worth noting that the first IAF squadron set to be equipped with these aircraft, the illustrious 11 Squadron, affectionately known as ‘The Rhinos,’ calls Vadodara its home.
But Bharat Drone Shakti 2023 wasn’t just about drones and aircraft. It served as a stage for unveiling the latest in-house innovations by the IAF. An awe-inspiring exhibition showcased projects ranging from a Hybrid Drone Detection System to AI Engines for fault diagnosis, Fly-By-Wire Testers, Stabilized Power Supply Trolleys, QR Code-based Tool Crib management systems, and modern teaching aids.
The event attracted a galaxy of dignitaries, including Minister of State for Civil Aviation and Road Transport & Highways, General (Dr.) VK Singh (Retd), Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari, senior officers from all three services, Defense Attaches and officials from friendly foreign countries, as well as representatives from the Indian industry. Truly, Bharat Drone Shakti 2023 was a momentous occasion that marked a giant leap forward in India’s journey towards technological excellence and self-reliance.
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