RAF Waddington 17th June 2008 – The Sarang Helicopter Display Team



During the On Target Aviation Group’s visit to RAF Waddington on 17th June we were most privileged to be hosted by the Indian Air Force 'Sarang' Display Team with its five HAL built Dhruv helicopters.

A total of 14 officers and 32 airmen are accompanying Dhruv’s J-4042, J-4043, J-4049, J-4050 & J-4063 - led by Wg Cdr Mishra. The team recently flew into Waddington following their displays at the Biggin Hill Airshow and a most successful visit to the ILA Berlin Airshow, where they were judged to be the best looking formation aerobatic team; beating competition from Switzerland, Austria, Germany and the United Kingdom.  The team will be displaying at Waddington’s International Airshow on 5th-6th June, followed by appearances at the Fairford and Farnborough Airshows, before returning home to India.

The 'Sarang' (or Peacock) helicopter display team was formed in October 2003 to showcase the progress of Indian Aviation Industry in recent years. The name 'Sarang' was chosen for the team, as not only is the peacock the national bird of India but also a very colourful bird providing the basis of a very attractive and distinctive paint scheme for the team’s helicopters.

Deliveries of the multi-role Dhruv commenced in 2002, a full ten years after the prototype's first flight, and 18 years after the Advanced Light Helicopter programme was conceived. Designed as a more capable replacement for the aging HAL built Cheetah and Chetak helicopters, the Dhruv is currently in service with the Indian Coast Guard, Army, Navy and Air Force. The Dhruv is capable of flying at very high altitudes, a crucial requirement for the Indian Army, which requires helicopters for operations in the disputed Siachen Glacier and mountainous Kashmir regions. A total of 75 Dhruvs had been delivered to the Indian armed forces by the end of 2007 and current production plans should see a futher 166 produced. Although the main demand for the type is from the Indian Armed Forces, the Dhruv has been exported in small numbers to countries where its low unit cost and high altitude performance is valued - Nepal, Bolivia, Israel and Myanmar; the Armed Forces of Peru, Turkey and Malaysia are currently considering the type.


The On Target Aviation Group wishes to thank Flt Lt Pearson of 8 Sqn for his enthusiasm and hospitality during our visit. Further thanks are extended to the staff of Air Traffic Control, our visitors from 51 Sqn and everyone else that made our day long stay so memorable.

This article is dedicated to Sqn Ldr Sharma of the Sarang Display Team, who was fatally injured during a display on 2nd February 2007.


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© On Target Aviation 2008