Royal Indian Air Force No. 1 Squadron (The Tigers)

Motto: Ekta Mein Shakti(Sanskrit: "Strength in Unity")

No. 1 Squadron (The Tigers) is the oldest squadron of the Indian Air Force. It operates as an multirole (air superiority, precision strike, and electronic warfare) unit. Based at Gwalior AFB, No. 1 Squadron falls under the Central Air Command, and along with No. 7 Squadron (Battle Axes), No. 9 Squadron (Wolf Pack), and "TACDE", forms a part of 40 Wing of the Indian Air Force.

Unit history

Formation

No. 1 Squadron, Indian Air Force, the first squadron of the Royal Indian Air Force, was raised on 1 April 1933 at Drigh Road, Karachi and equipped with four Westland Wapiti aircraft. The Indian element consisted of 9 officers and 14 Muslim technicians, then known as Hawai Sepoys.

The early history of No. 1 Squadron is synonymous with the history of the Indian Air Force. It was formed on the day that the Indian Air Force received its first batch of trained pilots from RAF Cranwell. The first batch of Indians at Cranwell were Ali Ahmed Khan, H.C. Sircar, Subroto Mukerjee, (later Air Marshal and the first Indian Chief of the Air Staff), A.B. Awan, Asgar Khan, Mohmmad Hanif, Bhupendra Singh, Amarjit Singh Walayat Ali Khan and J.N. Tandon. They had started training in 1930 and were commissioned in late 1932. Pilot Officer Tandon was too short to qualify for flying training and joined as the Equipment Officer. Flight Lieutenant (later Air Vice-Marshal) Cecil Bouchier, DFC from the Royal Air Force was the first Commanding Officer of the Squadron. The first batch were later joined by A.M. Engineer, DFC (later Air Marshal and the Chief of the Air Staff), Karun ("Jumbo") Majumdar, DFC & Bar, Narendra, Safdarjung Aerodrome officer and commercial pilot Syed ("Victor") Haider Raza (later Air Vice Marshal PAF, Mohammad Arif Tiwana, R.H.D. Singh, Prithipal Singh, "Baba" Mehar Singh, S.N. Goyal and Arjan Singh (later Marshal of the Air Force).

In the years 1933 to 1937 the Squadron trained for its primary role of Army Co-operation from Drigh Road, Peshawar, Chaklala and Sialkot. This training was to pay dividends in September 1937 when the squadron was inducted into operations against hostile tribesmen in the North West Frontier Province. Flying Officer A.M. Engineer was Mentioned in Despatches for his gallantry during this operation. Soon after Flying Officer Subroto Mukherjee was appointed Flight Commander of "A" Flight. By the time "B" Flight was formed and the three flights came together for the first time in Ambala, all three Flight Commanders were Indians; Mukherjee, A.M. Engineer and K.K. Majumdar.

On 16 March 1939 Flight Lieutenant Subroto Mukherjee took over the command of the Squadron from Squadron Leader C.H. Smith, thus becoming the first Indian to command a flight, and then a Squadron, (and later a Station, and finally the Indian Air Force itself.)

On various occasions, the Indian pilots were required to carry out operations against the tribesmen of the NWFP. Several times the pilots faced hostile fire. In 1937, Flying Officer Mehar Singh was attacking a tribal post at Shaider, when his fuel tank was hit by rifle fire. He made a forced landing in his Wapiti in rocky terrain, and had to evade hostile tribesman to make it back to the Army lines. On another occasion, Flying Officer Arjan Singh had to land his Hawker Audax in tribal territory. He was also able to evade the tribesmen and make it back to safety. On one sortie Squadron Leader Mukherjee, learning that a besieged Army post was running out of ammunition, instructed his gunner to stuff their socks with the ammunition from the Lewis guns. He then flew low, and dropped the ammunition into the post, thus giving them just enough to hold out long enough to be relieved. This was the beginning of air maintenance in a rather ingenious form.

Second World War and the First Burma Campaign

In June 1939, the Squadron was re-equipped with the Hawker Hart, with a few Hawker Audax aircraft on its inventory. In August 1941, the Squadron was re-equipped with twelve Westland Lysander aircraft, financed by the citizens of Bombay. Ever since then the squadron is considered to have been adopted by Bombay, and became known as the Bombay Squadron. In November 1941, the squadron moved en masse for an air display to Calcutta. When they returned they picked up a wrecked Lysander of No. 28 Squadron RAF and repaired it as their 13th aircraft!

December 1941 saw the outbreak of the war in the far east. That month, the squadron lost Pilot Officer Namgyal Paljor who undershot the runway at Peshawar and was killed. Towards the end of December, the Squadron was ordered to Burma to provide support in operations against the Japanese. The ground party left for Burma in the middle of January by train. The squadron flew its Lysanders across the country towards the end of the month.

On 1 February 1942, No. 1 Squadron, under the command of Squadron Leader K.K. Majumdar, moved to Toungoo, Burma. The Lysanders were assigned to fly tactical reconnaissance missions. On the day of they were due to begin, the area came under heavy air attack by the Japanese. Due to effective dispersal, none of the Squadron's aircraft were lost.

The squadron personnel immediately swung into action, mounting pairs of 250-pound (110 kg) bombs on the modified Lysanders. On 3 February, Squadron Leader Majumdar, escorted by two Brewster Buffaloes of No. 67 Squadron RAF, attacked Mae-Haungsan airfield. He dropped his bombs onto a hangar containing an aircraft and came back safely. The next day, the whole squadron repeated the air strike. On 5 February, the Tigers moved to Mingaladon airfield near Rangoon. More retaliatory strikes were launched against the principal Japanese air bases at Mae-Haungsan, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai in Thailand. The missions were flown unescorted at low-level and the results were evident from the reduced air activity the following day. Despite the Lysander being essentially an army co-operation aircraft, and without a bombsight, the squadron perfected the technique of dive bombing, and carried out pin-point attacks. On one occasion, Squadron Leader Majumdar carried out a 'Touch and Go' over an enemy airfield to prove a point to his passenger, an Intelligence Officer, who was refusing to believe it was an enemy airfield.

The original Burma pilots

Squadron Leader K.K. Majumdar (CO)[1]
Flight Lieutenant Asgar Khan
Flight Lieutenant Prithipal Singh (Flt Cdr)
Flight Lieutenant Niranjan Prasad (Flt Cdr)
Flight Lieutenant Lala Rupchand (Adjutant)
Flight Lieutenant Syed Haider Raza
Flight Lieutenant Mohmmad Hanif
Flight Lieutenant Walayat Ali
Flying Officer Henry Runganadhan
Flying Officer Rajinder Singh
Pilot Officer Y.V. Malse
Pilot Officer Mohmmad Arif Tiwana
Pilot Officer H.S. Ratnagar
Pilot Officer H.S. Moolgavkar
Pilot Officer J.K. Deuskar (KIA February 1942)
Pilot Officer P.S. Gill
Pilot Officer Sk Ibrahim

After a few days in Mingaladon, Majumdar led one flight with Flight Lieutenant Prithipal Singh to Lashio to support the Chinese Army. Flight Lieutenant Niranjan Prasad stayed back with his flight in Mingaladon. One aircraft under Flight Lieutenant H. Raza went to Toungoo. Throughout the operations, the reconnaissance sorties brought intelligence of troop concentrations and movements which were crucial to ground operation. The squadron performed so well that in appreciation they were presented a "Gold Wing" by the Chinese - a rare honour.

During the entire campaign Squadron Leader K.K. Majumdar personally led his pilots on reconnaissance missions in adverse weather and over inhospitable terrain. For this exhibition of exceptional courage, leadership and fighting spirit in the face of the enemy he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) on 10 November 1942,[2] the first such award to an Indian officer in World War II.[3] Warrant Officer Harjinder Singh who had improvised a wooden tailwheel for the Lysanders when the spares ran out, was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire for his imaginative improvisation and for maintaining very high aircraft serviceability in spite of poor logistic backing.

Throughout its span of operations, the Squadron lost only one Lysander during operations, piloted by Flying Officer J.K. Deuskar, when the aircraft flipped over during a landing. The gunner, Sergeant Dhora was also killed. At least one Lysander was lost in Japanese bombing and another lost during a ferry flight. One of the last missions was flown on 7 March by Flying Officers Rajinder Singh and Raza. They flew two RAF pilots to Rangoon airfield to help evacuate two Hawker Hurricane fighters left behind at the airfield. The squadron handed over all but three of its Lysanders to the newly formed Burma Air Force.[4]

The squadron returned to Secunderabad in March 1942 and command was taken over by Squadron Leader Subroto Mukherjee again. In June 1942, fourteen pilots under Squadron Leader Mukerjee went to Risalpur for conversion to Hurricanes. After training the squadron moved south to Trichy.

Flight Lieutenant Henry Runganadhan was to succeed Squadron Leader Mukerjee in October 1942. However just before taking over command, he was killed in a crash, when the Lockheed Hudson in which he was travelling was hit in the tail by a Hurricane flying as escort. The squadron crest was first approved in October 1942. The original motto "Ittehad Mein Shakti Hai" was later changed to "Ekta mein Shakti" meaning "In unity there is strength", a motto very aptly chosen.

Squadron Leader S.N. Goyal, another Cranwell-trained officer took command. However, there was some conflict with the British Station Commander who was ill-treating the Indian officers. There was a controversy and Goyal was posted out in August 1943 on his promotion to Wing Commander rank at Air HQ. In September 1943, Squadron Leader Arjan Singh took over command.

Burma Campaign

On 3 February 1944, after converting to the Hurricane Mk IIIE and mothering the raising of an additional Indian Air Force squadron, the Tigers returned to Imphal for operations against the Japanese under the command of Squadron Leader Arjan Singh. Equipped with the Hurricane the squadron was tasked to carry out reconnaissance missions. They carried out 60 sorties in February 1944 reconnoitering the upper Chindwin area right up to the Mytkyina–Mandalay railroad. These missions discovered enemy concentrations and river crossings, thus giving away the Japanese ground offensive plans. The vital information provided by these missions was later to change the whole course of the war.

During the Battle of Imphal, the Tigers were tasked to provide close air support to the 17th Infantry Division, helping the Allied forces to finally break through on 14 March 1944. Meanwhile No. 1 Squadron continued to launch Counter Air missions to thwart the Japanese advance. The first operational casualty occurred on 8 March, when Flying Officer Kasrani crashed after his engine caught fire due to a glycol coolant leak.

As the squadron pilots flew dawn to dusk and at times during the night, the technicians worked around the clock to minimise the time any aircraft spent on the ground. As a result the squadron flew a record 360 sorties lasting 530 hours during the campaign. In the critical month of April the squadron flew a total of 450 hours.

The battle continued through the difficult monsoon month of May and June 1944 in spite of which the squadron flew another 950 hours providing offensive support for the hard-pressed 17th Division, and also for the 2nd Division fighting its way from Kohima to open the road to Imphal. On 22 June 1944 the Japanese siege of Imphal was finally lifted.

The Japanese defeat was turned into a rout with the squadron aircraft pursuing them through the jungles of Burma in July 1944. Advancing Allied troops subsequently found ample evidence of the destruction caused by No. 1 Squadron in its raids. Destroyed tanks, bombed transport columns, smashed guns and charred vehicles littered the road to Chindwin. The defeat at Imphal has been considered one of the worst suffered in Japanese history. The air effort by No. 1 Squadron for the defence of Imphal totalled 1034 sorties, averaging 1 hour 30 minutes each. By March 1945 the squadron had been in Burma operations continuously for 14 months, the longest for any squadron, during which it had flown 4813 sorties totalling 7219 hours.

One of the pilots Ghulam Ahmad was the only Kashmiri in this squadron. Later migrated to Pakistan and was part of the Pakistan Air Force.

For his tireless bravery, dedication, valour and unflagging enthusiasm Squadron Leader Arjan Singh was decorated with the DFC on the field personally by Lord Mountbatten. Six more officers were awarded the DFC; Flight Lieutenant R. Rajaram, Flight Lieutenant Syed Haider Raza, Flying Officer A.R. Pandit, Flying Officer P.S. Gupta, Flying Officer B.R. Rao, and Flying Officer Khemendra Nath Kak. However there was a price; at least fourteen officers lost their lives in operational losses or accidents, including Flying Officer P.S. Gupta and Flying Officer Khem Nath Kak, both DFCs.

After their return from Burma the squadron continued to fly Hurricanes until November 1945, before converting to Spitfires. In a farewell message, Air Marshal Stanley Vincent, Air Officer Commanding 221 Group, complimented the pilots and airmen of the squadron about their reliability as "second to none in this world".

Command passed to Squadron Leader Rajaram when they returned from Burma. The Tigers moved to Peshawar and remained there for the next two years. Towards the beginning of 1947, under the command of Squadron Leader Ranjan Dutt, the Tigers converted to the Hawker Tempest II fighter bomber.

Post independence

In 1947, as a result of the partition of India, the squadron was assigned to the Pakistan Air Force. Accordingly the squadron was transferred under the temporary Command of Flight Lieutenant Syed Haider Raza with its entire complement of 68 Muslim Hawai Sepoys, technical staff and other ranks. After a year No. 1 Squadron PAF was amalgamated with No. 5 Squadron PAF. Their assets including trophies and archives were kept by No. 5 Squadron.

Though No. 1 Squadron was allocated to Pakistan, it was recreated by the Indian Air Force. On 26 January 1953, No. 15 Squadron IAF was renumbered as No. 1 Squadron IAF at Halwara, with Spitfires on its inventory under the command of Squadron Leader E.J. Dhatigara. To him went the honour of being the first post-independence Commanding Officer of the Tigers. The earliest record of an aircraft adorned with the Tiger's marking is a Mystère IVA sporting a "springing tiger" at Kalaikunda in the late 1950s.

In February 1953 the Tigers entered the jet age when it was re-equipped with the de Havilland Vampire. By August 1953, No. 1 Squadron had reached its full unit establishment of sixteen Vampire FB.52's. In September 1953 the squadron moved from Halwara to Palam. With the move came a change in command, with Squadron Leader T.S. "Timky" Brar taking over the reins of the squadron. On 3 April 1956, Squadron Leader G.D. "Nobby" Clarke took over command of the Tigers. The squadron continued to operate from Palam with the Vampires until it was re-equipped with the French-made Dassault Mystère IVA.

On 15 February, the aircraft, personnel and CO of No. 1 Squadron were designated as No. 27 Squadron IAF, and No. 1 metamorphosed itself away at Kalaikunda as a unit to be equipped with Mystère IVA fighter bombers. Squadron Leader Dilbagh Singh took over command of the squadron on 14 February 1957 and converted the squadron to Mystère IVA aircraft in May 1957. Squadron Leader Singh was given the honour of carrying out the first supersonic dive over India on 17 May 1957 in Mystère IVA (IA-950). Kalaikunda was also the base for the newly raised No.3 and No.8 Squadrons equipped with the Mystère. It was in this aircraft that the Tigers were to participate in their next two operations.

Operation Vijay

The squadron took part in the 1961 operation for liberation of Goa. Commanded by Squadron Leader S. Bhattacharya and equipped with Mystère IVA aircraft, the squadron operated from Santa Cruz airport. Also known as "Operation Vijay", this was the first major mission for the Tigers after independence. The squadron carried out fighter sweeps and strike missions over Goa, Daman and Diu. The squadron not only provided air superiority, but also became a deterrent to force the Portuguese into an early surrender. A four aircraft mission against the Daman fort on 10 December 1961 found the traditional surrender signal fluttering on top. In the face of relentless offensive air strikes, the Portuguese soon capitulated. In spite of the shortness of the operation, the Tigers had fired 586 rockets and released 176 bombs during Operation Vijay. Squadron Leader S. Bhattacharya was awarded the Vayusena Medal.

Indo-Pakistani War of 1965

In 1963, the squadron moved to Adampur, an airbase that was to remain its home for the next 17 years. When hostilities broke out in 1965 the unit was under the command of Wing Commander O.P. Taneja.

Their first mission was flown on the morning of 6 September, when a strike of four Mystères attacked a railway train at Ghakker. The formation was intercepted by a F-104 Starfighter, but the aircraft came back unscathed flying at low level.

An air strike by the Pakistan Air Force against Indian forward air bases was carried out on the evening of 6 September, Adampur among them. The next day No. 1 Squadron was tasked to attack the PAF's main airbase of Sargodha - a target of major importance housing nearly half of the enemy's aircraft.

The first wave was to consist of twelve aircraft. However due to confusion and technical snags, six aircraft dropped out and the remaining six were joined by a seventh Mystère which was on standby. The Mystères, led by Wing Commander Taneja, attacked Sargodha at 0550 hours. Taneja destroyed a large four engined aircraft, with the rest of the formation strafing fighters on ORP. A Starfighter was observed burning furiously as they left. A patrolling Starfighter tried to intercept the Mystères and got into a dogfight with Squadron Leader A.B. Devayya. He managed to shoot down the Starfighter, but failed to return from the sortie. His gallantry was eventually recognised by the posthumous award of the Maha Vir Chakra two decades later.

The second wave against Sargodha was sent in broad daylight. Squadron Leader Sudarshan Handa led the strike. One F-86 Sabre was destroyed by Handa on the ground and several targets attacked by his formation. All the Mystères returned to base. Squadron Leader Handa and his Sub Section leader, Flight Lieutenant D.M.S. Kahai, were both awarded the Vir Chakra for this mission. A third strike against Sargodha in the evening was intercepted by Sabres, and Flying Officer Babul Guha was lost to a missile strike.

Thereafter the Tigers were tasked with the airfield Air Defence, offensive strike missions against heavily defended Pakistani airfields, and interdiction of major lines of communication. Several strikes were flown against ground targets, and although aircraft were damaged by ground fire only one aircraft was lost when Squadron Leader R.K. Uppal was shot down over the Lahore front on 11 September. Targets attacked included the BRB Canal, Sialkot sector, Pasrur airfield and numerous targets of opportunity. When the paratrooper threat was at its height and the tall sarkanda grass in the airfield providing excellent concealment for the enemy snipers, Squadron Leader Handa had the privilege of strafing the grass, thus becoming the only pilot to strafe his own airbase! There were other unique events too. Flight Lieutenant J.P. Singh once came back from a low level strike with telephone wires wrapped around his rocket pods!

In the course of the war, the squadron flew a total of 128 strike missions and 46 Combat Air Patrol sorties. In recognition of their contribution to the war effort the Tigers were awarded one Maha Vir Chakra (posthumous), three Vir Chakras, two Vayusena Medals and two Vishisht Seva Medals. The Maha Vir Chakra came over two decades later when, based on reports and eyewitness accounts, it was firmly established that Squadron Leader Devayya had in fact shot down the enemy Starfighter in combat before going down himself. The MVC was awarded posthumously on 26 January 1988. The Vir Chakra awards went to the CO Wing Commander Taneja, Squadron Leader Sudarshan Handa and Flight Lieutenant D.M.S. Kahai. Squadron Leader P.R. Earle and Flight Lieutenant V.K. Verma received the VMs.

1965–1971

In July 1966, still under the Command of Wing Commander O.P. Taneja, the Tigers were re-equipped with the supersonic Mach 2 class, all weather interceptor - the MiG-21 FL. Even though the squadron had only two Qualified Instructors, the conversion to the FL proceeded quickly. Wing Commander Taneja handed over command to Wing Commander S.K. Dahar VrC. Unfortunately Dahar was killed in a MiG-21 crash immediately after the Republic Day flypast of 1968 and command of the squadron passed onto Wing Commander Mishra.

On 18 October 1968 the squadron was honoured when the President, Dr. Zakir Hussain, presented the Tigers with the President's Colours at an impressive ceremony held at Air Force Station, Adampur.

Indo-Pakistani War of 1971

When war erupted again in 1971, the squadron was under the command of Wing Commander Upkar Singh and based at Adampur. The squadron was tasked with the Air Defence of the Punjab sector and providing air cover to Indian Army formations deep inside Pakistani territory.

Operating from Adampur, the Tigers defended the air space assigned to them so well that apart from one unsuccessful pre-emptive strike on 3 December, not a single enemy aircraft penetrated Indian territory. On that day two MiG-21's were scrambled to intercept PAF Mirages attacking Amritsar's Rajasansi airport, but the enemy aircraft withdrew without a fight.

Strike missions escorted by the Tigers achieved their objectives and returned safely. Wing Commander Upkar Singh led a strike against Chander and Rahwali which went unopposed. On 6 December, the MiG-21s escorted Sukhoi Su-7's on a strike at Sialkot. The Squadron volunteered to escort the SU-7 on their ground attack missions as they were losing almost one aircraft and pilot a day due to enemy action. From the day the NO 1 squadron started escorting the Sukhoi Su-7's not one pilot/aircraft was lost due enemy action.

The first encounter with the PAF occurred on 8 December. Two MiG-21's escorting Su-7's were bounced by Mirage III's. A dogfight ensued, ending only when a confused call resulted in the Mirages retreating from the fight. The next day on 9 December, four PAF Mirage IIIs attacked Pathankot and as they were leaving the area were bounced by the Tigers. Two K-13 missiles were launched and one proximity hit was recorded. The squadron was given a 'probable' kill.

Several night sorties were flown. The only loss occurred on 11 December 1971, when Flight Lieutenant Ashok Balwant Dhavle was lost to friendly fire. The squadron also operated a detachment of two aircraft that were sent regularly to Pathankot.

The Tigers flew a grand total of 513 sorties during the conflict, more than the rest of the fighter force combined of the Indian Air Force. Wing Commander Upkar Singh was awarded the Ati Vishisht Seva Medal although he was recommended for the Mahavir CHakra by the Air Officer commanding Adampur. In addition one Vir Chakra was awarded to Squadron Leader S. Subburamu. Three Vayusena Medals and nine Mentions in Despatches were awarded to the squadron.

1971–1985: a period of consolidation

No. 1 Squadron continued to be based at Adampur for the next ten years with Wing Commander Upkar Singh as Commanding Officer until 24 September 1973, when he handed over to Wing Commander Brijesh Jayal. After Jayal's tenure, command was assumed by Wing Commander Keith Lewis on 17 February 1976 for over two years, and then by Wing Commander P.R. Jaindass from January 1981 to May 1983. It was during this time that the Tiger's celebrated their Golden Jubilee, the squadron meanwhile having been relocated at Gorakhpur in February 1982, after a record stay at Adampur. The Commodore Commandant on 1 April 1983 was Air Marshal T.S. "Timky" Brar, who had commanded No. 1 Squadron in 1953.

Shortly thereafter, Wing Commander T.J. Master took over and commanded the squadron until 24 August 1984, when he handed over to Wing Commander G.M. Viswanathan, who was at the helm when the Tigers moved further east, to Hasimara, in the eastern Dooars, in 1985.

Tigers and the Mirage 2000

Due to the personal intervention of the Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Katre, No. 1 Squadron was designated as one of the two units to be re-equipped with the state of the art Dassault Mirage 2000 in 1985, its older MiG-21s being "transferred" to the newly-raised No. 52 Squadron.

The first seven Mirage 2000s arrived on 21 June 1985. After six months of training operations, on 1 January 1986, No. 1 Squadron formally came into being at Gwalior with Wing Commander P.S. Ahluwalia taking over as the first CO of the Mirage 2000 equipped Tigers. Normal flying operations commenced the very next day. The squadron flew a total of 220 hours in the first month of operations. Under the guidance of Wing Commander P.S. Ahluwalia the squadron played an active role and was instrumental in the development of tactics for the new weapon platform. He also took up the formidable task of formulating the syllabus and SOPs for this new induction.

Wing Commander Ahluwalia handed over command of the Tigers to Wing Commander S.U. Apte in May 1988. Wing Commander Apte commanded the squadron until April 1990 after which Wing Commander N.A. Moitra led the Tigers for another two years before handing over to Wing Commander Anil Chopra in April 1992, in whose hands the squadron flew into its Diamond Jubilee.

Diamond Jubilee Year

The Tigers celebrated their Diamond Jubilee in a grand manner in 1993, as did the Air Force. The squadron celebrations saw the who's-who of the entire Air Force under one roof. Wing Commander S.S. Dhanda took over the command of Tigers in May 1994 and he was succeeded by Wing Commander Daljit Singh in November 1995 who commanded the squadron until December 1997, after which the reins of the squadron were handed over to Wing Commander Neelakantan.

Kargil War

In May 1999, the Tigers, now with Mirage 2000 ASF's, were deployed at Ambala for "Operation Safed Sagar". From Ambala the Tigers were tasked for Elint and AD Escort missions to PR/ARC ac and strike missions. A total of 234 operational sorties were flown from Ambala which included a few missions at night.

As a contingency, a few aircraft moved to Jodhpur, where the squadron flew 153 sorties consisting of AD Escort missions and trials. Throughout the operation, the Tigers maintained a high serviceability of aircraft and only one mission was aborted during the entire duration of "Op Safed Sagar", which lasted for more than two months. Wing Commander S. Neelakantan, VM was awarded the YSM for "Op Safed Sagar". In addition seven Mentions in Despatches were awarded to the squadron.

The Tigers now

The Tigers continue to strive for higher operational standards. Presently under the command of Wing Commander Neeraj Yadav the squadron personnel work to attain higher standards of professional excellence. The Tigers performed exceptionally in Exercise VAYUSPRADHA and were declared the "Best Fighter Squadron" for the year 1999–2000.

 

The Indian Air Force (IAF; Devanāgarī: भारतीय वायु सेना, Bhartiya Vāyu Senā)

The Indian Air Force (IAF; Devanāgarī: भारतीय वायु सेना, Bhartiya Vāyu Senā) is the air arm of the Indian armed forces. Its primary responsibility is to secure Indian airspace and to conduct aerial warfare during a conflict. It was officially established on 8 October 1932 as an auxiliary air force of the British Raj and the prefix Royal was added in 1945 in recognition of its services during World War II. After India achieved independence from the United Kingdom in 1947, the Royal Indian Air Force served the Dominion of India, with the prefix being dropped when India became a republic in 1950.

Since independence, the IAF has been involved in four wars with neighbouring Pakistan and one with the People's Republic of China. Other major operations undertaken by the IAF include Operation Vijay – the invasion of Goa, Operation Meghdoot, Operation Cactus and Operation Poomalai. Apart from conflicts, the IAF has been an active participant in United Nations peacekeeping missions.

The President of India serves as the Commander-in-Chief of the IAF. The Chief of Air Staff, an Air Chief Marshal (ACM), is a four-star commander and commands the Air Force. There is never more than one serving ACM at any given time in the IAF. One officer Arjan Singh, DFC has been conferred the rank of Marshal of the Air Force, a five-star rank and the officer serves as the ceremonial chief.

In its publication the Military Balance 2010, International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) estimates that the Indian Air Force has a strength of 127,000 active personnel and operated around 1,380 aircraft. However, various reliable sources provided notably divergent estimates of its strength over the years.

 

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This webpage was updated 25th January 2019