Yesterday Indian Air Force phased out the MI 8 helicopters from its active service at Yelhanka Air Force Station, Bangalore on Sunday.
Soviet built MI-8, christened called Pratap in Indian service, had been the workhorse of the Air Force’s medium lift combat capability. Truly a multi role machine, Pratap distingued itself by carrying men and material to most inhospitable terrain. It also excelled as a gun ship and command platform in times of need.
Mi-8 helicopters were part of Operation Meghdoot of 1989 in the Siachen Glacier and Operation Pawan in Sri Lanka. The craft operated extensively in humanitarian, rescue and disaster relief operations across the country including during the devastating 2015 Chennai floods of 2015, apart from ferrying many VIPs and VVIPs.
The Russian-made Mi-8 entered India in 1971. Between then and 1988, the Air Force inducted 107 of them, operating them across 10 helicopter units and used them in various operations for 45 years.
The Air Force said, “Through its glorious service career, the Mi-8 did not just establish itself as a mainstay of the helicopter operations but also left an indelible mark on the future by providing the IAF with a lineage of professional helicopter aircrew.”