IAF’s Flying Bullets and Swifts awarded President’s Standard

Written by: OneIndia Defence Desk
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New Delhi, Nov 29: Two Squadrons of the Indian Air Force (IAF) were awarded the coveted President's Standard on Saturday.

The President's Standard is awarded to operational units based on their past record and achievements during peace as well as hostilities.

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The No 18 Squadron and No 22 Squadron were granted the Standard by President Pranab Mukherjee at Air Force Station (AFS) Hasimara. AFS Hasimara comes under Eastern Air Command.

The No 18 Sqn is popularly known as the ‘Flying Bullets' and No 22 Sqn as the ‘Swifts.'

During the ceremonial parade, Commanding Officers Group Captain K J Singh (No 18 Sqn) and Group Captain Sandeep Singh (No 22 Sqn) received the Standards.

No 18 Sqn played a key role in 1971 Indo-Pak war

Formed in Ambala on April 15, 1965 with five Gnat aircraft and 11 pilots, the No 18 Squadron is endowed formidable operational legacy.

The Squadron took on the role of the ‘Defenders of Kashmir Valley' during the 1971 Indo-Pak war and carried out extensive flying towards escort duties and also mounted a near continuous day time Combat Air Patrol.

The Squadron operated an improved version of Gnat (the Ajeet from HAL) from May 1980 onwards and finally bid farewell to these flying machines in December 1988 at Bagdogra.

Later, in June 1989, the Squadron was resurrected at AFS Hindon with the MiG-27 ML aircraft, announcing the entry of a supersonic era in the IAF.

In 1996 the Squadron moved from Hindon to Kalaikunda and soon after it was designated as the first dedicated Night Strike Squadron of IAF.

No 22 Sqn shot down 3 intruding F-86 Sabre jets

Initially called as the ‘Hell's Angels,' the No 22 Sqn was raised on October 15, 1966 at AFS Bareilly as the eighth Gnat Squadron of the IAF.

In December 1969, the Squadron moved to Kalaikunda and was tasked for Air Defence Role during the 1971 war.

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Here, the Squadron drew first blood for IAF by shooting down three intruding F-86 Sabre jets in a single four aircraft mission on November 22. For its daring performance, the Squadron was re-christened as the ‘Sabre Slayers'.

In 1986, the Squadron was renamed as Swifts and in February 1990, it was converted to operate the MiG-27 ML aircraft at Hasimara. The Squadron was deployed for Op Vijay in 1999 and for Op Parakram in 2001.

Creating history, on August 8 2001, the Swifts became the first fighter Squadron to land at Lengpui airfield in Mizoram. The Squadron was relocated to Kalaikunda in the year 2012, but moved back to Hasimara in August 2014.

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