The Suryakiran Aerobatic Team (SKAT) and Sarang helicopter display team along with the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) will perform at an air show at Galle Face in Colombo from March 3 to 5 as part the 70th anniversary celebrations of the Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF).
In all, 23 aircraft of the IAF and Indian Navy will take part in the show and have begun arriving at the SLAF Base in Katunayake on Saturday, the Indian High Commission in Colombo said on Twitter. The teams are in Colombo on an invitation from Air Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana, Commander of SLAF, an IAF statement said.
This will be the first performance for the SKAT team outside India since it was resurrected in 2015 with Hawk Advanced Jet Trainers (AJT). Earlier, the SKAT team toured Sri Lanka during the 50th anniversary of SLAF in 2001.
Marking the golden jubilee year of the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh, the SKAT team has been flying different formations over landmarks across the country starting from Kanyakumari in the south. The team has already flown over some of the southern cities and more demonstrations are in the pipeline.
As an aerial salute to all those who took part in the 1971 war, the number “71” was made in the air over Kanyakumari with 10 aeroplanes, six aircraft making the number seven and four of them making the number one. More formations are planned all over the country over the year, a defence official said.
The team currently has 13 pilots and is led by Group Captain Anoop Singh. The entire team consists of fighter pilots and qualified flying instructors. The team is currently procuring and integrating the smoke pods so it can paint the skies in signature Suryakiran Style, the official added.
The SKAT team, also known as 52 Squadron or The Sharks, is based in Bidar. The team was born in 1996 with Kiran Mk-II aircraft and had enthralled spectators across the country till 2011. It was revived in 2015 with Hawk trainers initially with four aircraft and grew to the nine aircraft formation.
Since its inception, the SKAT team has carried out over 600 displays all around the country, It has also represented India across southeast Asia including China.