‘Flying Bullets’, IAF’s No. 18 Squadron, Becomes Operational After Induction of LCA Tejas Mk 1 Aircraft

Giving a boost to “Make in India” programme, he Indian Air Force (IAF) on Wednesday inducted Tejas Mk-1 Final Operational Clearance (FOC) aircraft into the recently resurrected No 18 Squadron, the “Flying Bullets” at Air Force Station Sulur. The Squadron is the first in the IAF to induct this platform. This is also an important milestone in the country’s indigenous fighter aircraft program. The Squadron was operationalised by Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria. LCA Tejas aircraft with Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) were inducted in No. 45 Squadron in 2016. Indigenous Built LCA-Tejas Performed Well During The ‘Gagan-Shakti 2018’.

Air Officer Commanding in Chief of the Southern Air Command, Air Marshal Amit Tiwari, and the Commodore Commandant of 18 Sqn, Air Marshal TD Joseph, Mr R Madhavan CMD HAL, Dr Girish S Deodhare, PGD (CA) and Director, Aeronautical Development Agency were also present during the ceremony. While addressing the personnel at AF Station Sulur, the CAS congratulated them and lauded the efforts put in by Southern Air Command and AF Station Sulur towards the induction of the new airborne platform.

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Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria complimented Chairman HAL, ADA, DRDO labs, DPSUs, MSMEs and all agencies involved in the production of LCA for achievement of this historic milestone. The occasion was marked by the presentation of aircraft documents of the Tejas FOC version by the HAL CMD to the CAS. The CAS further handed these over to the Commanding Officer of 18 Squadron Group Captain Manish Tolani, along with the ceremonial keys to the unit.

The event commenced with a fly past comprising of a helicopter formation of the Mi 17 V5 and the ALH, An-32 transport aircraft and Tejas Mk-1 fighters. Before the induction ceremony, the Chief of the Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria flew a sortie in the Tejas Mk I fighter with 45 Sqn. Tejas Mk-1 FOC is a single engine, light weight, highly agile, all weather multi role fighter aircraft capable of air-to-air refueling thus making it a truly versatile platform.

No 18 Sqn was raised at Ambala on 15 Apr 1965 with the Folland Gnat Aircraft. Flying Officer Nirmal Jit Singh Sekhon, the only Param Vir Chakra recipient of the Indian Air Force was a part of the Squadron during the 1971 Indo-Pak War. The Squadron also has the unique distinction of having operated two HAL made aircraft, the Tejas and the Ajeet which it also operated from the same station. Over the years it also operated MiG-27 ML aircraft from various bases across the country. The Squadron was number plated in Apr 2016. The Squadron falls under the operational control of Southern Air Command which is responsible for integrating the Squadron into the IAF Concept of Operations.

Garima Abrol, Widow of Squadron Leader Samir Abrol of Indian Air Force, Clears SSB Interview, Will Join Air Force Academy in January 2020

Garima Abrol, widow of Squadron Leader Samir Abrol one of the Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots who died in a plane crash on February 1, this year in Bengaluru, cleared Services Selection Board (SSB) from AFSB Varanasi in the widow category. Garima will join the Air Force Academy (AFA) in Telangana’s Dundigal in January 2020. After completing training from the AFA, she will be commissioned into the IAF as Flying Officer in 2021. Gauri Mahadik, Widow of Major Prasad Mahadik Of Indian Army to Join Officers’ Training Academy in April.

On February 1, Sqn Ldr Abrol and Sqn Ldr Siddhartha Negi lost their lives after Mirage-2000 trainer aircraft crashed at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Airport in Bengaluru. Sqn Ldr Negi died on the spot, while Sqn Ldr Abrol succumbed to injuries after being taken to the Command hospital. Meet Lt Garima Yadav: A Journey From Beauty Queen To Indian Army Officer.

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Days after the tragic death of Sqn Ldr Abrol, his brother Sushant Abrol had penned down an emotional poem alleging that corruption in the bureaucracy took his brother’s life. He had also blamed the government for the tragic incident. Lt Sangeeta Mall, Widow of Gorkha Rifles Jawan Joins Indian Army.

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Through his poem Sushant had targeted the central leadership for not caring about the lives of soldiers. Garima also shared that poem on her Facebook, after which it went viral on social media.

Indian Air Force to Call Off Deal to Procure 20 Hawk Jets

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A defence deal to buy 20 Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer planes is likely to be called off by the Air Force. The main reason for scrapping the deal is that the price to buy these advance trainer jets are like to cost more than Rs 2,000 crore, which is beyond the expectations of the defence ministry. The negotiations for the deal have been stuck for almost three years, and now the prices are further hiked by the vendors.

The Air Force is also not showing any interest in upgrading the fleet of over 120 Hawk planes. These planes were inducted into service after a deal with Britain in 2004. The Hindustan Aeronautical Limited (HAL) is offering to upgrade the Hawk fleet of the Air Force to Hawk India jets by adding combat capabilities, reported Mail Today, citing government sources.

According to the report, the sources said, “”The benchmark price of each aircraft was around Rs 90 crore but the initial price offered by the vendors including the public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) was more than double.” They further told Mail Today,  “In the contract negotiations, the vendors have cut down the price but even now, the price offered is more than 60 per cent of what the defence ministry is willing to pay for the planes.”

The government also wants the forces should utilize the budget in the best possible way to enhance its fighting capabilities. According to the sources, the Hawk fighter jets are newly inducted and the last Hawk batch was inducted just three years ago, so there is no need to upgrade the fleet. The Indian Force proposed to buy 20 Hawk planes from a British firm during the UPA government. It wanted to replace the Kiran MK2 with the Hawk Advanced Fighter Jets to be equipped with smoking pots to fly with Surya Kiran Aerobatic Team (SKAT), reported The Mail Today.

In 2010 the contract for the last batch of 57 planes was done between India and the British firm with the aim to enhance training programmes of the Air Force and the Navy. India had procured the fleet of 66 Hawk jets in 2004.

Indigenous Built LCA-Tejas Performed Well During The ‘Gagan-Shakti 2018’

 

The major positive to take away from the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) biggest war-like exercise, ‘Gagan-Shakti 2018′ is the performance of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas. The indigenously-manufactured (LCA) Tejas was put to test by the IAF in the 14-day long exercise. The aircraft performed as per the requirement of the force.

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LCA-Tejas in action during Gagan-Shakti 2018 (Picture Courtesy:Twitter/@IAF_MCC)

The major positive to take away from the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) biggest war-like exercise, ‘Gagan-Shakti 2018‘ is the performance of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas. The indigenously-manufactured (LCA) Tejas was put to test by the IAF in the 14-day long exercise. The aircraft performed as per the requirement of the force.

An IAF official who was involved in the exercise said, “We did trials and validation of operational efficiency of LCA Tejas. We were able to generate six sorties per platform per day. In this exercise, we had deployed eight platforms.” According to the official, on the very first day of the exercise, six Tejas aircraft reported ‘snag’, but the air force rectified it immediately. The ‘Gagan-Shakti’ started on April 8 and concluded on April 21.

The Officials associated with the exercise performed satisfaction regarding the performance of Tejas, but, they are worried about the slow production rate of the aircraft. LCA Tejas is a supersonic, single seat, single jet, multi-role light fighter designed by Hindustan Aeronautical Limited (HAL). It has been under development since 1983. The LCA Tejas was inducted into ‘Flying Daggers’ 45 Squadron of the IAF on July 1, 2016. It is to replace the ageing Mig-21. In December 2017, Defence Acquisition Council had cleared procurement of 83 LCA Tejas Mark 1A.

At present, two contracts have been signed between IAF and HAL for the LCA one for the procurement of 20 Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) standard aircraft and another for 20 Final Operational Clearance (FOC) standard aircraft. Till now only eight Tejas aircraft are in operation in the force. HAL is expected to provide rest 12 (IOC) aircraft this year. These 40 aircraft (20 IOC and 20 FOC) will be Tejas mark 1. HAL is also working on four major upgrades which it will incorporate in the manufacturing of the next 83 fighter jets out of which 10 are trainer aircraft. These aircraft will be Tejas Mark 1A.

Earlier this month the IAF has issued a Request for Information (RFI) for acquiring 110 fighter jets to strengthen its fighter capabilities. Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Block 70, Saab’s Gripen E, Boeing’s F/A 18 Super Hornet and Dassault Aviation’s Rafale are the major contenders for $15 billion deal. Currently, The Indian Air Force is facing the shortage of fighter jets as age-old Migs are about to retire over the next few years. If HAL could provide LCA Tejas on time, then it would definitely help the Indian Air Force to plug in the required gap.

The ‘Gagan-Shakti 2018’ was organised with the aim to counter twin attack by China and Pakistan along western and northern border. Entire fleet strength of the force was put to test under war-like situation. LCA Tejas finally met the requirement of the Indin Air Force.