IAF’s 18 Squadron, of War Hero Sekhon Fame, Equipped With Tejas
The operationalisation of the 18 Squadron makes it the second squadron in the Air Force to fly the Tejas.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) operationalised its Squadron 18 'Flying Bullets' at the Air Force station in Tamil Nadu's Sulur on Wednesday, 27 May, inducting the first Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas of the FOC (Final Operational Clearance) variant.
IAF chief RKS Bhadauria also flew a sortie on an Initial Clearance Operation (IOC) Tejas aircraft from the 45 Squadron 'Flying Daggers' at the airbase on Wednesday. The operationalisation of the 18 Squadron makes it the second squadron in the Air Force to fly the Tejas, the first one being the 45 Squadron, also based in Sulur, and operating the LCA since 2016.
The 18 Squadron, raised in April 1965 with the motto 'Teevra aur Nirbhaya' (Swift and Fearless'), last flew the MiG-27 jets before being number-plated in April 2016. The squadron was resurrected on 1 April this year in preparation for the new LCA Tejas jets rolling off Hindustan Aeronautics Limited's production line in Bengaluru.
18 Squadron is big in Indian military history. It saw active duties in the 1971 air war with Pakistan, with squadron pilot Flying Officer Nirmal Jit Singh Sekhon, being awarded the IAF’s only Param Vir Chakra thus far.
His fearless air defence of Srinagar against marauding Pakistani jets remains one of the IAF’s most enduring battle legends.
Here's the story of the IAF officer NJS Sekhon and what went down on 14 December 1971.
According to news agency PTI, the Indian Air Force has already placed an order for 40 Tejas aircraft in preliminary configurations and is likely to seal a contract "very soon" with HAL for another 83 aircraft in the Mk.1A configuration at a cost of around Rs 38,000 crore.
(With inputs from PTI and Livefist.)
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