Mighty Jets: 55 years of strate­gic reac


ighty Jets, one of the old­est trans­port squadrons of the In­dian Air Force (IAF) with its motto of ‘Ish­tam Yat­nen Sadyet’ that trans­lates into ‘Achieve Goals through Per­se­ver­ance,’ cel­e­brated its 55th an­niver­sary on March 31, 2016. It was raised in Chandi­garh with An-12 air­craft on March 31, 1961, un­der the com­mand of then Wing Com­man­der T.N. Gha­diok in sup­port of In­dian armed forces in Jammu & Kash­mir ( J&K) re­gion. It ac­tively took part in 1962, 1965 and 1971 wars. Dur­ing 1971 war, the unit was be­stowed ‘Bat­tle Hon­ours’ for Of­fen­sive Oper­a­tions for its suc­cess­ful bomb­ing mis­sions against the en­emy, a rare hon­our for a trans­port squadron. The squadron was awarded the Pres­i­dent’s Stan­dard in March 2011.

In April 1985 re-equipped with IL-76 ‘Ga­jraj’ air­craft and rechris­tened ‘Mighty Jets’, it re­lo­cated to Agra (April 1985) and to Nag­pur (March 2003), be­fore fi­nally re­lo­cat­ing back to Chandi­garh in Au­gust 2011. All th­ese years it con­tin­ued to fly in sup­port of J&K forces as well the civil­ian pop­u­la­tion be­ing a harbinger of peace and bring­ing progress to the state. The only IL-76 squadron in the IAF, it has logged more than one lakh flight hours on the four-en­gined IL-76 air­craft.

Be­ing equipped with heavy-lift air­craft, the squadron has a long list of firsts to its credit. A T-72 tank can be di­rectly driven into the IL-76 for an air­lift, or three 6.5-tonne trucks, and a host of heavy and out­sized ve­hi­cles and equip­ment can be car­ried over long dis­tances. The no­table firsts and cred­its in­clude: The only In­dian unit to cir­cum­nav­i­gate the world. Fly over North Pole, land in Car Ni­co­bar on a dam­aged run­way af­ter 2004 tsunami. The first woman multi-en­gine jet pi­lot of the IAF (then Sqn Ldr Veena Sa­ha­ran).

Mighty Jets have been the mes­siah of re­lief dur­ing var­i­ous nat­u­ral calami­ties within the country (Bi­har-Pu­rina, Gu­jarat, Pun­jab, Haryana, J&K-Sri­na­gar & Leh, As­sam, Tamil Nadu, An­daman & Ni­co­bar, Ut­tar Pradesh, etc.) and abroad (US- Katrina Hur­ri­cane, Iran, Pak­istan, Philip­pines, Sri Lanka, In­done­sia, Ye­men, Nepal, Male, Ar­me­nia, Kyr­gyzs­tan, Afghanistan, Oman, etc). Its oper­a­tions have so far spanned Asia, Europe, North Amer­ica and Africa.

Be­ing a legacy fleet, IL-76 main­te­nance poses enor­mous chal­lenges, how­ever through pro­fes­sion­al­ism and ded­i­ca­tion of its per­son­nel, the squadron has risen to the oc­ca­sion meet­ing all its as­signed tasks. It has earned one MVC, four VRCs, one YSM, two BAR to VMs, 39 VMs, three VSMs and five M in Ds.

Presently, the unit is com­manded by Group Cap­tain Su­nil Ka­toch com­mem­o­rate 55 years of its glo­ri­ous ser­vice to the na­tion.

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