‘Flying Bullets’ to be Made Operational on May 27 at Sulur Airbase, IAF’s No. 18 Squadron to Fly LCA Tejas Mk 1

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.

 

Aero India 2019:General Bipin Rawat Takes Sortie of LCA-Tejas; Watch Video

Indian Army Chief, General Bipin Rawat on Thursday took a sortie in Light Combat Aircraft (LCA)- Tejas during an Aero India in Bengaluru. Gen Rawat described the fighter jet as a “wonderful aircraft”. The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) took a sorties in a two-seater trainer variant of the Tejas. On Wednesday Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)-made fighter jet received the Final Operational Clearance (FOC). Watch Video of Rafale Jets Landing at Yelahanka Air Force Station to Participate in Bengaluru’s Aero India Show.

After the sortie, while interacting with the media, the COAS said that the flight in the LCA was a wonderful experience. According to Gen Rawat, the aircraft will add to the air power of the Indian Air Force (IAF). The FOC Certificate and Release to Service Document (RSD) were handed over to the Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa on the opening day of Aero India 2019. General Rawat also flew in Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) at the event. Gagan Shakti 2018: Sukhoi 30-MKI Equipped With Brahmos Missile Hit Targets Over Malacca Strait on Concluding Day.

General Bipin Rawat taking sortie in LCA Tejas:

Meanwhile, on February 20, Lockheed Martin unveiled the F-21 fighter jet. The United States of America’s premier fighter jets maker offered to produce these jets in India under the ‘Make in India’ programme. Lockheed Martin would partner Tata Advanced Systems to produce the F-21 locally as it is eyeing the multi-billion dollar deal for 114 aircraft. The US fighter jets maker claimed that F-21 is designed to address IAF’s unique requirements. Though Lockheed Martin offered the F-16 fighter jet in response to IAF’s Request for Information for 114 fighter jets.

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.