The Indian Air Force on Monday scrambled fighter jets to intercept an Iranian passenger aircraft that was headed for Guangzhou, China, after receiving intel about a bomb threat, which turned out to be a false alarm.

According to the Indian Air Force, after receiving an intimation regarding the bomb scare, the IAF fighter jets followed the aircraft at a safe distance. The Airbus A340 plane (W581) operated by Mahan Air was flying from Tehran, Iran's capital, to Guangzhou in China. A news agency reported that information regarding a bomb scare was received from the Lahore Air Traffic Control.

"On Oct 3, intimation was received of a bomb scare on an aircraft bearing Iranian registration, when it was transiting through Indian airspace. IAF fighter aircraft were scrambled, which followed the aircraft at a safe distance," said the IAF statement.

The aircraft was allowed to continue on its journey only after authorities in Tehran confirmed to disregard the bomb scare. During its time in the Indian airspace, the aircraft was kept under close radar surveillance by the IAF.

"Aircraft was offered option to land at Jaipur & then, at Chandigarh. But pilot declared his unwillingness to divert to either of them. After a while intimation was received from Tehran to disregard bomb scare. Aircraft continued on its journey towards final destination," said the IAF.

The IAF said all actions were taken as per the laid down procedure, jointly with the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) & Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS).

Data from global flight tracking service FlightRadar24 showed the Mahan Air flight W581, which was headed for Guangzhou, China, making at least three circles in the skies near the national capital Delhi, before continuing its journey towards the Chinese city via Myanmar.

Separately, defence minister Rajnath Singh today inducted the indigenously developed Light Combat Helicopters (LCH) called 'Prachand' (fierce) into the Air Force, giving a boost to the IAF’s combat prowess and India's Aatmanirbhar Bharat campaign.

The LCH, developed by state-run aerospace major Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), is equipped with requisite agility, manoeuvrability, extended range, high altitude performance and around-the-clock, all-weather combat capability.

As India aims to grow its capability to indigenously design, develop and manufacture advanced cutting-edge technologies and systems, the induction of 'Prachand' will give a further push to Atmanirbhar Bharat. Production of LCH will reduce import dependence on combat helicopters in the country. Notably, LCHs are already on the import embargo list. The government says with its versatile features built-in for combat missions, LCH also has export capability.

India is emerging as a global defence manufacturing hub. The country's defence exports have increased 5-6 times to ₹13,000 crore as compared to the last 7-8 years. The Ministry of Defence has set a target of achieving a turnover of ₹1.75 lakh crore in aerospace and defence goods and services by 2025, which includes exports of ₹35,000 crore.

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