Official confirmation has been received that the Indian Air Force is finally getting an F-86 Sabre for its Indian Air Force Museum Collection. And not just any Sabre, but one that has seen action in the 1971 Bangladesh War. The Sabre in question is the example that used to be displayed in Chittagong Air Base , this example fell into allied hands at the end of the war after the Pakistani forces surrendered.
The handover of the Sabre has been confirmed in an official statement released today on the occasion of the visit of the Indian Air Force Chief of Air Staff to Bangladesh. The IAF has already presented the second example of a Chetak helicopter to represent the Kilo Flight Allouette III of the 71 war. It should be noted that the current Air Chief of the IAF, ACM R K Bhadauria is a graduate of the Bangladesh Defence Staff College.
Canadair Sabre Mk 6 S.No. 1606 Photo Copyright – Shadman Al Samee
The newly formed Bangladesh Air Force took charge of the aircraft and eight other examples. After the war, the BAF resurrected about half a dozen Sabres to flying status and they had a short career. Sabre 1606 however doesn’t appear to be one of the restored examples and was possibly used for Spares. For years it was put on display at the Chittagong Air Force Base.
Needless to say, getting an example of one of the captured F-86s to the IAF museum has been a pipe dream of many Indian warbird enthusiasts for years. All we can say now is – no more a pipe dream!
As per Bangladeshi sources the Sabre has already been flown to Delhi sometime back in an Indian Air Force C-17. And was being worked on at the IAF Museum in Palam . (Photograph at top of this page). The aircraft has been repainted in all silver and in BAF scheme.
Update 28 Feb 2021:
Reproduced below is the photo of the very same Sabre 1606 as published in Larry Milberry’s “The Canadair Sabre” (Published 1986) . It appears that Sabre 1606 was pretty much headed to the scrap heap, but rescued at the last minute for warbird duty in Chittagong. The Bangladesh Air Force did a great job patching up this derelict.. and now its up to the Indian Air Force to work with what they have!