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India will use all might if sovereignty threatened: President

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Hasimara (West Bengal): President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday said India is committed to peace but will use “all its might” if its sovereignty is threatened.

Speaking at Haismara air base in the eastern sector, the President, who is the supreme commander of the forces, also lauded the India Air Force’s role in humanitarian operations.

President Mukherjee earlier presented President’s Standard to two IAF squadrons based here. The squadrons which have been honoured are the 18 Squadron and the 22 Squadron.

“Though we remain firmly committed to peace, we will use all our might to protect the sovereignty of our nation. I am confident that our valiant men and women in uniform will rise to the occasion,” the President said.

The air base, which is around 15 km away from India-Bhutan border, is considered critical given its proximity to India’s border with China, Bangladesh and Bhutan.

Lauding the IAF’s role in recent humanitarian operations, Mukherjee said: “The IAF, besides safeguarding the sovereign sites of our nation, has also been at the forefront of all humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations.”

The 18 Squadron initially flew the Gnat fighters, getting the nickname ‘Flying Bullets’. It was was formed in Ambala in 1965.

The 18 Squadron was also the first fighter squadron to operate from Srinagar after Independence, making maiden sorties in 1968. It came to be known as ‘Defenders of Kashmir Valley’ during the 1971 India-Pakistan war.

In the 1971 war, the 18 Squadron flew in escort duties with Mystere and Vampire across the Pir Panjal mountain ranges. In 1989, the squadron converted to MiG 27 fighters.

The 22 Squadron was formed in 1966 in Bareilly and is known as ‘The Swifts’.

In the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war, the squadron drew first blood by shooting down three Pakistani F-86 Sabre jets. It was flying the Gnat Mk-1 aircraft at that time and got the MiG 27 fighters in 1990.

The 22 Squadron was involved in Operation Vijay and Operation Parakram as well.

The award of President’s standard is one of the highest honours bestowed upon an air force unit or a Squadron in recognition of exceptional service rendered by it to the nation, both during the war and in peace.

Hasimara is an important air base of the Eastern Air Command in northern West Bengal. It was set up after the India-China war of 1962. It has two MiG 27 squadrons and Akash missile systems.

(IANS)

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Operation Meghdoot: Role of Indian Air Force

Indian Air Force backed the Indian Army during Operation Meghdoot by supplying troops and stores

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Ensign of Indian Air Force. Wikimedia commons
Ensign of Indian Air Force. Wikimedia commons
  • Operation Meghdoot’s objective was to capture the Siachen Glacier.
  • Indian Army expeditions were going on in the high-altitude region.
  • IAF was tasked with supporting the troops with backup and supplies.

Operation Meghdoot was launched in 1984, it aimed to capture the Siachen Glacier. It was quite a unique operation because of Siachen’s dreaded terrain and unforgiving climate. The mission was a successful one, India gained control over the Siachen Glacier.

India now controls the 70 kilometres long glacier and the three major passes west of it (Sia La, Bilafond La, and Gyong La. Whereas Pakistan controls the area west of Saltoro Ridge. The TIME magazine states, India has control over 1,000 square miles of territory because of its exceptional military operation.

You may also like: 20 Amazing Facts About Indian Navy

Siachen glacier, known as the third pole of the world, is one of the most dreaded places in the world. Mainly due to its temperature and terrain. Wikimedia commons
Siachen glacier, known as the third pole of the world, is one of the most dreaded places in the world. Mainly due to its temperature and terrain. Wikimedia Commons

IAF had played a major role in this operation. It used Il-76, An-12, and An-32 to transport troops and drop supplies to these extremely high altitude battlefields. Following which, Mi-17, Mi-8 and HAL Chetak would carry the same to the east.

IAF’s performance was incredible, taking into account how extreme the temperature and altitude are at Siachen. The operation is a saga which showcased such skill that can never be forgotten.

IAF's uncompromising valour made it possible for the Indian Army to capture the Siachen Glacier. Wikimedia commons
IAF’s uncompromising valour made it possible for the Indian Army to capture the Siachen Glacier. Wikimedia Commons

Role of Indian Air Force

When the first IAF sortie was launched to Siachen on 20th September 1978, Chetak helicopters used to supply stores to the on-ground Indian Army. That’s when a thought occurred to one of the IAF officers “Why not pick their emails for their loved ones back home?” They used to drop a string with a note saying “We are coming back in 10 minutes. Please write your letters and put them in a bag.”

This kind gesture of the Indian Air Force symbolized the brotherhood of ‘men in arms’. It also boosted the morale of Indian Army troops who were leading expeditions on the ‘third pole of the world’.

Also read: All you want to know about the ranks of Indian army

IAF operates from 60 bases across the country. Wikimedia commons
IAF operates from 60 bases across the country. Wikimedia Commons

IAF helicopters used to fly at the height of 16,000 feet, many times, the officers had to take oxygen directly from the pipe. They also had the job of taking injured troops back to base camp. However, it isn’t as simple as it sounds.

Finding the expedition parties in the never-ending desert of ice, then landing the helicopter on the lumps of snow were tasks that required unmistakable skill.

IAF is the fourth most powerful air force in the world. Wikimedia commons
IAF is the fourth most powerful air force in the world. Wikimedia Commons

How IAF operates in Siachen now

Indian Air Force has a far different set of procedures than that of the time of Operation Meghdoot. The operations are scientifically planned and executed meticulously.

  • IL-76s and An-32s supply stores to the men in Leh and Thoise from Chandigarh.
  • Thereafter, Mi-17 helicopters airdrop supplies to the lower level helipads at 17,500 feets.
  • Cheetahs then take over and ferry the supplies to helipads situated at 20,000 feet.