“OUR MOTTO ‘SARVADA GAGENECHARET’ (ALWAYS FLYING IN THE SKY) TO ENABLE IAF TO ‘NABHA SPARSH DEEPTAM’ (TOUCHING THE SKY WITH GLORY)”
Maintenance Command was formed at Kanpur on 26 January 1955 with Air Vice Marshal Harjinder Singh MBE PVSM as its first Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief. Kanpur was the hub centre of maintenance activities even before independence. The only Base Repair Depot (BRD) of the Indian Air Force existed at Kanpur, along with a Repair and Manufacturing Depot (RMD). A unit called Aircraft Manufacturing Depot (AMD) was subsequently added to undertake manufacture of Avro aircraft. In the perspective of the industrial revolution in India, when the role of IAF was more clearly defined, AMD was transferred to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). This division of HAL is today known as Transport Aircraft Division or HAL (TAD), and is based at Chakeri, Kanpur. IAF, however, was poised to expand in times to come and Kanpur alone could not absorb the futuristic industrial activities. Nagpur was eventually selected as the new site for setting up Maintenance Command Headquarters.
Phoenix was a legendary bird that lived in Arabia. According to tradition, the phoenix consumed itself by fire every 500 years, and a new, young phoenix sprang from its ashes. In the mythology of ancient Egypt, the phoenix represented the Sun, which dies at night and is reborn in the morning. Early Christian tradition adopted the phoenix as a symbol of both immortality and resurrection. The ancient concept of the Phoenix is, in many ways, the essence of the mythological treatment of themes of renewal and rebirth, particularly considering the emphasis on fire, metaphorically the spark of life and, practically essential for existence.
In May 1978, Air Mshl D Subia PVSM VrC, AOC-in-C, MC used this philosophy to give the Base Repair Depots a uniform Unit Crest and Motto. The genuinely unique crest depicts the mythical bird Phoenix rising out of the flames with a gear wheel encircling its head. The motto inscribed on the insignia is KAYA KALPA which indicates rejuvenation of the body and explains the role of the Base Repair Depots where aircraft, aero engines and other technical equipment, having completed certain life, are overhauled and sent out with a new lease of life. 1 BRD, the mother BRD, however, has been allowed to retain its original motto of SAHAYATA SEVA.
MAINTENANCE AND LOGISTICS ESTABLISHMENTS
Technical activities undertaken by Maintenance Command are carried out at Base Repair Depots (BRDs), Equipment Depots (EDs), Air Storage Parks (ASPs), Air Force Liaison Establishments (AFLEs), Air Force Liaison Cells (AFLCs) and numerous other smaller units. Maintenance Command is responsible for product support, maintenance, repair and overhaul of all de-centralised variants of aircraft, aero-engines, missiles, ADGES Radars, Communication, Power and Air Conditioning equipment, GW equipment, Ground Radar, Radio and Nav aids including GCA, Airborne avionics, EW equipment etc. Additionally, HQ MC oversees production and product support activities of HAL and BEL through Liaison Establishments and Liaison Cells.
To support air operations in the Far East during World War II, No. 322 Maintenance Unit was formed in 1940 in the 21 TATA hangers at Chakeri, Kanpur. The functions included arming of bombers and fighter aircraft like Liberator, Lancaster, Hurricane, Tempest and Dakota. The unit was further expanded to include aircraft storage and servicing activities, while the logistics support and aeroengine storage functions operated at Armapur Estate, 25 Km away from Chakeri. In August 1945, after Japan surrendered to the Allied Forces and hostilities came to an end, this No. 322 Maintenance Unit was disbanded and Royal Air Force Station, Kanpur came into formal existence.
On 15 August 1947, the historic day of India’s Independence, Wing Commander Ranjan Dutta DFC took over the command of Air Force Station, Kanpur from the Royal Air Force. Simultaneously, on this very day, No. 1 Aircraft Repair Depot for servicing and No. 10 Aircraft Storage unit for storage activities were formed at Chakeri, Kanpur. Group Captain DAR Nanda became the first Commanding Officer of both these units. On 09 August 1948, the two units were merged to form No. 1 Base Repair Depot and Group Captain Harjinder Singh MBE PVSM became the first Commanding Officer of this new unit. Nostalgic moments included induction of India’s first jet aircraft, the Vampire in 1954 and the Depot affecting its first major servicing in that very year. Flying Officer Gian Singh still remains a much-remembered name who used to regularly ferry in the Vampire aircraft for servicing at Hanger No.6 of the Depot. 1 BRD has a professionally rich heritage of servicing both fighter and transport aircraft of IAF like Spitfire, Prentice, Austar, Harvard, Otter, Bell Helicopter, Vampire, Toofani, Mystere, Hunter, Avro and presently An-32 aircraft.
Overhaul requirement of transport and helicopter fleet of the IAF necessitated setting up of No. 3 Base Repair Depot at Chandigarh on 20 Aug 1962. Group Captain TMJ Kriplani, the Depot’s first Commanding Officer, set up the requisite facilities with Russian collaboration and commenced the first overhaul of the IL-14 transport aircraft and the Mi-4 helicopter. With induction of new helicopters in IAF, the Depot graduated to overhaul of Mi-8 and Mi-17 helicopters. In fact, the Depot has today become the knowledge base for all Russian helicopters, and has undertaken a number of tasks like life extension of Mi-25 helicopters, repair of Mi-26 helicopters and upgrade of Mi-35 helicopters.
Over a period of time, with the induction of weapon platforms, IAF felt the requirement to increase its capability in maintenance and overhauls of core equipment and associated systems/ subsystems. It led to establishment of various Aircraft BRDs (1 BRD, 3 BRD, 5 BRD, 11 BRD), Engine BRDs (3 BRD and 4 BRD) and System BRDs (7 BRD, 8 BRD, 9 BRD, 12 BRD, 13 BRD, 14 BRD, 15 BRD and 16 BRD) over the geographical spread of India.
302 Maintenance Unit was established in 1939 at Allahabad. During 1942, it was converted into a Universal Equipment Depot, the first ever such Depot in South East Asia as per RAF records, to sustain the air operations of Allied Forces during the Second World War. In 1948 the Depot was renamed as 4 Equipment Depot and was rechristened as 24 Equipment Depot in 1966. Traversing through the days of providing spares support to aircrafts such as Tempest, Spitfire, Gnat, Marut, Canberra and Hunter aircraft, 24 Equipment Depot now stores spares for Jaguar, Avro and Dornier aircraft, Chetak / Cheetah and Cheetal Helicopters, ALH and RPA.
Similarly, 23 Equipment Depot at Avadi (Chennai) dates back to World War II. Christened in December 1944 as 337 Maintenance Unit under the Royal Indian Air Force, it functioned as a Supply Point and a Storage Depot for South-East Asia. It was renamed twice over as No. 3 Equipment Depot in September 1947 and 23 Equipment Depot in March 1966. With the expansion of IAF, several Equipment Depots pan India were established (25 ED at Devlali, 26 ED at Bengaluru, 27 ED at Palam, 28 ED at AMLA, 29 ED at Kanpur) followed by mini EDs (41 ED,42 ED,43 ED, 44 ED, 45 ED & 49 ED) to cater to diverse fleets and systems. Similarly, Air Force Liaison Establishments were set up alongside HAL Divisions to act as an interface between IAF and HAL.
In order to ensure smooth movement of men and material, 31 Movement Control Unit was originally formed as Air Movement Section at Mirpur in erstwhile West Pakistan in 1939. Subsequently, this unit was renamed as Passenger and Freight (P&F) Forwarding Section and remained under 3 Wing which was later converted to a full-fledged Movement Control Unit on 11 May 1967. 31 MCU is the staging base for undertaking Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief operations. Unit has participated in 18 HADR missions in the last five years providing relief materials and assistance to people in need both in India and foreign destinations. The unit has been conferred the coveted Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) Tier-III status by Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs on 17 Jan 2019. Various benefits are available to importers for this including the facility to make deferred payment of Customs duty. This unit thus became not only the first Defence unit but also the first Indian Entity to have acquired this status.
32 MCU was formed in 1948 as the Air Freight & Passenger (Mov) Unit. Subsequently, the unit was rechristened as 32 MCU, AF. Presently the unit is located at Terminal-1 of Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai. The Unit has obtained (AEO) Tier-II Certificate. 33 MCU was formed on 04 October 1982 at Air Force Station Guwahati to act as a single point ‘passenger and freight handling agency’ for the Eastern region. The Unit acts as a gateway for the Northeast and is a major transportation hub for IAF.
AERONAUTICAL SOCIETY OF INDIA (AESI), NAGPUR
AeSI was founded on 17 Nov 1948 with an aim to promote the advancement and diffusion of the knowledge of aeronautical sciences and aerospace technologies as well as elevation of the aeronautical profession. Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India was the first Patron-in-Chief of the society. Since then, it has grown to 16 branches across the country. Air Marshal RKS Shera AVSM VSM AOC-in-C, HQ MC is Vice President AeSI.
AeSI, Nagpur was formed on 21 Oct 2003 at HQMC, IAF. Air Vice Marshal NR Chitnis VSM, AOES, HQ MC is the present Chairman of the Nagpur branch. AeSI, Nagpur is committed to enhance fraternisation among professionals and provide a platform for interaction between industry, R&D and academia.
Besides regular interactive sessions among the members, the society along with other institutions conducted a school outreach programme during Nov 2018 wherein, students participated for various events such as essay, poster making, quiz competition etc. Orange City Science Fair was also conducted along with Raman Science Centre where aeromodelling and working science models were showcased by young science enthusiasts. Annual event “VAIMANIKA” was organised in March 19 at Priyadarshini College of Engineering to promote aviation and develop creative talent amongst the younger generation. Symposium based on “Self Reliance in Military and Civil Aviation Maintenance '' was also conducted during the event.
Indigenisation has been the thrust area of HQ MC and fuelled by our desire for self reliance. Development through trade and private Industry is an inescapable requirement for numerous categories of spares required by the Indian Air Force. To ensure that the benefits of Indigenisation are available, the vendor base is being developed and has grown in quantity and quality. Organising seminars and expositions by IAF has received good response from the industry for enhancing our vendor base and has resulted in achieving many milestones.
LIST OF SEMINARS/EXHIBITIONS: INDIGENISATION
Details of Seminar
10th edition of Biennial Global Defence Expo India at Chennai
11 Apr -14 Apr 18
Seminar on ‘Technology Infusion and Indigenisation Plans of the Indian Air Force’ at AF Auditorium, New Delhi
27 Jul 18
5th Edition of Aerospace & Defence Manufacturing Show – ADMS -2018 at Bangalore
09 Aug -10 Aug 18
Defence Production Corridors : Industry interaction in Aligarh, UP and Chennai
11 Aug 18
Seminar on ‘Defence Production : Public Private Partnership’ : Focus on East at Kolkata
14 Sep -16 Sep 18
Seminar on Aviation Maintenance, AVIAMAT at New Delhi
31 Oct 18
Uttar Pradesh Defence Expo-2018 (UPDEX-2018)
14 Nov -16 Nov 18
Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit at Ahmedabad
19 Jan 19
IDEX Conclave at Coimbatore
25 Feb – 27 Feb 19
Aero India 2019 at Bangalore
20 Feb – 24 Feb 19
“Make in India – Buyer Seller Meet” organized by VDIA at Nagpur
28 Feb – 01 Mar 19
Major achievements of indigenisation through private industry in the recent past are TVC trolley for Su-30 MKI, Fibre Optic Gyro unit of PECHORA System, Universal FDAAS for Mig-27 & An-32, Pilot rescue ladder for Su-30 MKI, Canopy sealing hose for MiG-29, GPS antenna for Jaguar aircraft, etc.
NODAL TECHNOLOGY CENTRES
In order to widen the scope and garner the potential of Indian Aviation Industry and other R&D organisations, Nodal Technology Centres (NTCs) have been created at all BRDs & 28 ED. The main function of these NTCs is Initiation and Systematic management of R&D projects for Indigenisation, Obsolescence mitigation and Op capability enhancement of platform / eqpt. These NTCs are pursuing a number of technologically complex projects.
MAKE IN INDIA CAMPAIGN
Substantial efforts are being put in at HQ MC and depots towards self reliance by systematically reducing the import content of aviation spares by innovative approaches. To create awareness towards these ‘Make in India’ efforts at depots, Indigenisation weeks are being held on a quarterly basis at each BRD with active participation of R & D Institutes, Academia of repute and Vendors. These interactions have borne results and given a boost to indigenisation activities.
A conscious effort is made in understanding technology enhancements and assessing their utility for these in IAF. Participation in National level seminars and extensive Vendor Interactions have contributed to assimilation of State of the art technologies and their absorption in IAF.
CARGO MANAGEMENT IN IAF
AWARD OF AUTHORISED ECONOMIC OPERATOR STATUS
IAF is dependent on many foreign suppliers for meeting the spares needs to keep its aircraft and associated systems in a high state of operational preparedness at all times. Timely and Speedy customs clearance of ex import items has thus been a Key Result Area for the Movement control Units. The withdrawal of customs duty exemption on defence goods wef 01 Apr 16 resulted in MCUs having to pay a considerable amount against Interest/Penalty/Demurrage charges since the free window period which initially was 72 hours was further reduced to 48 hours. While exploring various options to solve the imbroglio, availing the facilities offered by the Customs department under the Authorised Economic Operator clause was found to be a plausible solution. However, the process involved stringent quality control and procedural checks by the customs authorities before grant of the coveted status.
With sustained and continuous liaison with the customs authorities, the MCU at New Delhi obtained the Tier II status on 07 Nov 17 which conferred on the unit the privilege of priority handling and the facility to make deferred payment up to 15 days. In doing so, the unit was the first Defence unit and fourth entity in India to have obtained the coveted status. Subsequently, the MCU at Mumbai and Equipment Depot at Bengaluru also obtained the AEO Tier II status.
However, there were occasions when few shipments were subjected to detailed examination by customs authorities which resulted in payment of interest/penalty/demurrage charges. In order to circumvent the problem, a need was felt to further enhance the Authorised Economic Operator status in order to exempt defence goods from elaborate checks and to avail the benefit of deferred payment of up to 30 days. After a thorough inspection and scrutiny of documents related to Logistics and Cargo operations, the MCU at Delhi was awarded the Tier III status on 17 Jan 2019. In the process, the unit became the first Indian entity to be granted the exalted status. The only other entity to have been granted the status as on 31 Jan 19 is M/s LG Electronics which is an MNC. Our Equipment Depot at Bengaluru and Movement Control Unit at Mumbai also achieved AEO Tier II status.
The MCUs would thus be in a position to ensure expeditious customs clearance of ex abroad consignments with the ultimate objective of ensuring preparedness of the IAF.
FITNESS FIRST: MISSION ALWAYS PROGRAMME
Fitness First: Mission Always programme was launched by Air Mshl Hemant Sharma AVSM VSM, AOC-in-C MC, IAF on 30 Oct 18 during the annual MC Commander’s conference. The programme has certain inbuilt features to ensure positive results in the long term. The unique features include leading commitment at Command HQ, Holistic and multimodal strategies to minimize lifestyle disease, objective and achievable targets and measures.
Every year Stations / Units under Headquarters Maintenance Command conduct various publicity programmes through motivational talks in Schools/Colleges/Educational Institutes and participate in Career Fairs to spread career and induction related information regarding Officers’ cadre. During 2018, Officers visited 22 Senior Secondary Schools and Engineering Colleges and participated in 12 Career Fairs. This HQ has gifted HPT-32 and TV-2 aero engines to Raman Science Center and HPT-32 aircraft to Priyadarshini College of Engineering at Nagpur.
MAINTENANCE COMMAND SCHOLARSHIP SCHEME (MCSS)
The object of MCSS is to award Scholarship to deserving wards of Air Warriors who are on the posted strength of any Units in AoR of Maintenance Command as on 30 Sep of the year of Award of Scholarship. The scheme covers School , Technical , Medical and vocational Education. From the year 2018 onwards, the Scholarship is also awarded to Special children. This is awarded on means-cum-Merit.
AIR FORCE SCHOOLS
There are 16 Air Force Schools under Headquarters Maintenance Command. To keep abreast of the changes taking place in the education system, various workshops are conducted every year for teachers of Air Force Schools.
AFCAT AND STAR
The automated e-Pariksha for Air Force Common Admission Test (AFCAT) and Scheduled Test for Airmen Recruitment (STAR) are conducted twice in a year(Feb/Aug and Mar/Sep) for selection of students as Officers and Airmen respectively.
Maintenance command has participated in 20 events and stood fifth position in overall AF Championship 2018-19. MC Team achieved 1st position in shooting & Chess, 2nd position in lawn tennis, badminton & boxing and 3rd position in wrestling. Cycle polo federation cup 2018-19 is planned at air force station Chandigarh from 04-06 Mar 19.
Marshal of Indian Air Force Arjan Singh International Hockey Tournament was conducted at Air Force Station Chandigarh from 15-22 Apr 19. In the year 2019-20, Sports festival is planned at Air Force Station Chandigarh in which 06 AF Championships viz. Basketball, handball, kabaddi, Hockey, Squash and Weight Lifting will be conducted.
ADVENTURE ACTIVITIES: -Salient activities undertaken during 2018-19 are:-
Multi Adventure Camps
Vayusena Nagar, Nagpur
Cycle Expedition & Rafting
Powered Hang Gliding Camp