Surya Kiran

Surya Kiran BAe Hawk Mk132, from 2015. Photo via Tony R

The "Surya Kiran" (Sun Rays) is The Indian Air Force aerobatic display team.

The team consisted of nine BAe Hawk Mk132 aircraft from Bidar Air Base.


The first aerobatic team in the Indian Air Force was first formed in 1982 on the occasion of the Air Force's Golden Jubilee anniversary. The team flew nine Hawker Hunter F.56A fighters from No.20 Squadron, which were painted in overall dark blue with white trim. This team received the name "Thunderbolts".

In 1990, it was decided to re-equip a new team with four Indian-built HAL HJT-16 Kiran Mk.II jet trainers.

On 27 May 1996, another two planes were added to the formation team along with one spare. This revised team then received its present name of "Surya Kiran". Their first demonstration under the new name was on 8 October during the "Indian Air Force Day" celebrations at Palam. The following year, the team increased to nine formation aircraft with a solo pair.

In 2001, "Surya Kiran" made its foreign debut while performing in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

In 18 March 2006, during practice flight in three-ship formation at Bidar Air Base, one of the team's planes crashed taking lives of two of team's pilots - Wing Commander Dheeraj Bhatia and Squadron Leader Shailendra Singh. The crash occurred while they were performing a low level pass. It is possible that two of the planes collided before the crash. The downed aircraft missed a college by approximately 30 feet and impacted just outside the building complex. This was the first ever "Surya Kiran" crash.

Then, on January 21, 2009, Wing Commander Rajpal Singh Dhaliwal was killed when his "Surya Kiran" trainer crashed near Bidar in Karnataka at 8:35AM shortly after he took off from the station on a routine training flight. The aircraft went down when the engine caught fire in midair and it crashed in the "Kunta" forest region near Bidar.

The IAF "Surya Kiran" team performed for the last time on Feb 9-13, 2010 at the Aero India airshow in Bangalore. After these demonstrations, the team was disbanded for internal Air Force reorganization reasons. All of the team's HJT-16 Kiran Mk.II planes were re-allocated for pilot training purposes and all 13 team's pilots were dispersed to other IAF squadrons.

Syrua Kiran team, were reform again in the beginning of 2015, this time flying BAe Hawk Mk 132. The first public display with new aircraft was during Air Force Day celebrations at Hindon on October 8, 2015, but flew four aircraft only and performed just flypasts in different formations. The team expected to rise to nine aircraft.

In November 2016, the team added two more aircraft to their formation flying.

In 2018 the Surya Kiran team finally rased to nine aircraft as planned.

On Fev 19, 2019 two of the Hawk aircraft collided in mid-air during Aero India airshow rehearsal kiling one of the pilots.

Surya Kiran BAe Hawk Mk132 pilots. Photo via Tony R Surya Kiran HJT-16 from 1990 to 2010 Surya Kiran HJT-16 from 1990 to 2010 Surya Kiran HJT-16 from 1990 to 2010 Surya Kiran HJT-16 from 1990 to 2010 Surya Kiran HJT-16 from 1990 to 2010