HYDERABAD (TIP): The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team of the United Kingdom put up a splendid show at the Air Force Academy, Dindigal on Nov 17. The Red Arrows also met their Indian counterparts during a visit to Hyderabad, as part of a global tour.

“The visit allowed a rare opportunity for the Red Arrows to be joined by officers from the Indian display team -the Suryakiran. Pilots from the Indian team flew in the back seats of the Red Arrows’ aircraft as passengers during a practice display at the airfield,” the Royal Air Force said in a note.

It was a chance for the officers to exchange experiences of flying, with both teams operating the Hawk fast-jet. An aircraft from each team was positioned nose-to-nose on the ground too – providing a unique backdrop for a team photograph.

The activities in Hyderabad, which also included a reception hosted by the British Deputy High Commission, celebrated the close links between the United Kingdom and India, especially across defence, aerospace and engineering.

British Deputy High Commissioner Andrew McAllister said, “We are privileged to welcome the Red Arrows, who have thrilled, inspired and delighted audiences the world over, with over 4,800 displays in their 52 years.

“The Suryakirans and the Red Arrows both fly the Hawk aircraft, showcasing how the best of British engineering is also contributing to the Make in India initiative,” he said.

The practice display on Wednesday was performed in front of 200 school children, who watched the 24-minute aerobatic show at the Air Force Academy.

On Thursday, more than 3,000 people, including military officers, diplomats, business leaders and students, watched a public display – complete with the Red Arrows’ trademark Diamond Nine formation and red, white and blue smoke trails.

India is the only country where the Red Arrows are performing a display in two different locations as part of the 60-day tour to the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions.

Squadron Leader David Montenegro, Team Leader of the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team and Red 1, said: “The Red Arrows’ colourful, dynamic aerial display of precision, formation aerobatics are a vivid showcase of British engineering, teamwork and creativity. I know these qualities and constant pursuit of excellence are shared with our colleagues and counterparts in the Indian Air Force,” he said.

Both the Suryakiran and the Red Arrows fly the Hawk aircraft, which is both a British and now Indian success story. “The Red Arrows are honoured to be in Hyderabad as part of our overseas tour and to have the opportunity to meet members of the Suryakiran, display to the invited audience and, once again, to support the important, close links between the UK and India across business, education and defence,” he said.

Meeting the Suryakiran was also a reunion, with some of the 2016 Red Arrows team having instructed a number of the Indian pilots, training on the Hawk at RAF stations in the UK.

Squadron Leader Praveen, team pilot with the Suryakiran, said: “It is great that both instructors and pupils are reunited as ambassadors for our respective nations.”

Last month, the Red Arrows performed an aerial salute to the Indian Air Force on Air Force Day at Hindon.

The team’s ground crews also toured schools and universities in New Delhi to talk about education and training opportunities in the UK.

The occasion came shortly before the first ever India-UK TECH Summit, which highlighted excellence and collaboration between India and the UK in innovation and technology.

The Red Arrows’ twin visits to India form part of a major 60-day tour of the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions -the team’s biggest overseas exercise in a decade.

Departing on the next leg of the tour on Friday,the team is due to perform flypasts or displays in Pakistan, Oman, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and Kuwait before returning to the UK in early December.(PTI)