The “Flying Bullets”, No. 18 Squadron, of the Indian Air Force (IAF) will be made operational on Wednesday at Sulur Airbase by the Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria. The “Flying Bullets” will be the second IAF squadron which will fly indigenously-built fourth generation Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas. IAF’s sole Param Vir Chakra (PVC) recipient Flying Officer Nirmaljeet Singh Sekhon also belonged to the same squadron. IAF’s Tejas-MK1 Front Runner to Bag Aircraft Contract of Royal Malaysian Air Force; Pakistan’s JF-17, South Korea’s FA-50 Golden Eagle Also in Race.
The Squadron was resurrected on April 1, 2020, at Sulur, Tamil Nadu. The Final Operational Clearance (FOC) variant LCA Tejas Mk 1 will now be inducted in this squadron after two months. The No. 45 Squadron IAF “Flying Daggers” was the first to get their MiG-21s replaced by Tejas aircraft .
The “Flying Bullets” was first raised on raised in April 1965 with five Folland Gnats and eleven pilots. It flew Mig-27 till 2016 and was number-plated after that. It remained decommissioned for almost four years. Indigenous Built LCA-Tejas Performed Well During The ‘Gagan-Shakti 2018’.
The squadron actively participated in the 1971 Indo-Pak war. Flying Officer Nirmaljeet Singh Sekhon of the “Flying Bullets” was awarded PVC posthumously. The motto of the squadron was ‘Teevra aur Nirbhaya’ – which means ‘Swift and Fearless. After the war, in February 1975, the Gnats were phased out, and replaced by HAL Ajeets.
In May 1989, they were replaced with MiG 27s. With the induction of MiGs, its former role of Air Defence was changed to ground-attack. The squadron received the Presidential Standard Award in 2015. The “Flying Bullets” has also earned the sobriquet of ‘Defenders of Kashmir Valley’ as it was first IAF squadron to land and operate from Srinagar.