Bengaluru, May 28: The Indian Air Force on Wednesday remembered one of its finest fighter pilots who made the supreme sacrifice for the country during Ops Vijay in Kargil, on May 27, 1999.
Sqn Ldr Ajay Ahuja was the Flight Commander of No 17 Sqn Golden Arrows. He was on a flying mission as a photo-reconnaissance specialist when his aircraft, a MiG-27L, had an engine flame out, after a shoulder-fired Stinger SAM (Surface to Air Missile) fired by the Pakistanis hit the plane.
After giving a radio call, Sqn Ldr Ajay Ahuja ejected only to be caught by the Pakistanis and eventually killed. A post-mortem conducted after his body was handed over to the Indian side revealed that the officer was killed after being shot from a close range.
Remembering his great sacrifice, the IAF said on Wednesday that the extremely courageous act involving immense risk to this life epitomises the tenacity and indomitable spirit of the Indian fighter pilot.
"Tragically, Ajay paid the price for his bravery. His aircraft was hit and damaged severely. Though the officer ejected safely, he was killed by the enemy in captivity. He will always be remembered as a courageous and selfless soldier who laid down his life without a second thought for his country and for his brothers in uniform," IAF Spokesperson Wg Cdr Rochelle D'Silva said.
An extremely popular officer who was always cheerful
Sqn Ldr Ajay Ahuja who hailed from Kota in Rajasthan was an alumnus of the National Defence Academy and was commissioned in the IAF on June 14, 1985 as a fighter pilot. Over a span of 14 years in various squadrons, he served as an operational pilot on MiG-21 variants and on the MiG-23 fighter bomber.
"He grew up in service to become top instructor with an experience of over 1000 hours spent in instructing ab-initio pilots. He was extremely popular among his pupils because of his patience and cheerful nature. We salute this brave officer for his gallantry and draw inspiration from his dedication and bravery," adds Wg Cdr Rochelle D'Silva.
Sqn Ldr Ajay Ahuja is survived by his wife Alka Ahuja and son Ankush.
The IAF personnel attached to the Air Force Station Bathinda paid rich tributes to Sqn Ldr Ajay Ahuja by laying wreath and showering of petals at a memorial.
"It's an emotional day for all of us. The life story of Sqn Ldr Ajay Ahuja will always be remembered and he still continues to inspire young fighter pilots of the IAF," the spokesperson added.