Helicopter Unit 111
The unit crest of the 111 HU is the same as the standard set for all helicopter units. There is a Sarnath Lion on the top and and within a golden braid there is a blue background within which there is a yellow three bladed rotor with stars on one blade, a dagger on the other and the medical cross on the third. The dagger on the other and the medical cross on the third. The dagger signifies combat, the star signifies the VIP commitments and the helicopters undertake and the cross signifies the medical aid or the cas evac which happens to be one of the most significant roles of the helicopter.
The motto 'APATSU MITRAM' means 'Friends in Distress' and truly so, as helicopters are primary for flood relief, search and rescue and casuality evacuation.
The unit of Snow Tigers was created on 1 August 1963. The unit was located at Tezpur with MI-4 aircraft, with its main role being casuality evacuaction and transport support. During this period, the unit also had a detachment of two aircraft for his highness of the King of Nepal. On 3 February 1964, the unit became fully operational.
The unit took part in 'Op ORCHID' for the large scale troop induction at the Burmese Border. In March 1965 the unit started providing transport support for the Indian Military Training team to all the helipads in Bhutan. On 20 August 1965 the unit received orders to move to Srinagar in preparation for an anticipated PAK mischief in that area. By dusk, 10 MI 4 helicopters and all personnel were ready to move. All unit personnel and equipment were airlifted to Hashimara on 21 August 1965 and the 10 helicopters flew in formation. The Air Force decided that all helicopters were to undergo modification of rocket carriage. Technicians worked the whole night of 21-22 August to have all the helicopters ready for ferry on the morning of 22 August 1965. When the helicopters reached Chandigarh the instructions were received for sending 5 helicopters to Srinagar and keeping 5 helicopters back at Chandigarh.
Hostilities began a few days later. From Chandigarh and Srinagar, the MI-4s launched rocket attacks deep into enemy territory. Two helicopters launching an attack from Jammu came under heavy ground fire while crossing into PAK territory. One of the helicopters suffered multiple hits. The mission was completed and helicopters returned to Chandigarh. The unit's 5 helicopters from Srinagar moved to Jammu on 26 November 1965 while the other 5 aircraft continued at Chandigarh. On 14 January 1966, the unit moved back to Hashimara. Four officers of the unit received gallantry awards and the MI 4 had drawn first blood in battle.
The unit was tasked with VVIP/VIP duties. The King of Bhutan and the President/Prime Minister of India were flown by the unit. The unit also flew regular sorties to Thimphu for maintenance of the Air Force Laision Element there.
The monsoons of 1968 were monstrous in West Bengal. Jalpaiguri district was submerged and thousands were rendered homeless. A massive flood relief operation was launched wherein the unit airlifted 57,705 kgs and 765 passengers. The unit carried out detts at Dewanagiri and Chidung (Bhutan) to assist Govt. of Bhutan and airlifting mining equipment.
The unit proved itself again during the 1971 war of liberation of East Pakistan when the unit helicopters operated from dispersed locations and carried out a variety of tasks viz. rockets, attacks, river crossing operations, Cas Evac and communications. Once again the MI-4 and personnel of 111 HU had combined into a hard hitting combat force. With the creation of Bangladesh, the war came into an end.
During 1972 the unit provided extensive transport support to Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sikkim, Orissa, West Bengal and Assam. In 1973 on urgent requisition from King of Bhutan "TRIPPLE ONE" was called upon to undertake mercy missions (dropping of food grains) in Bhutan. Unit flew 179 sorties airlifting a total of approx 8900 kgs of foodgrains. The unit had the honour of flying sorties for the coronation of King of Bhutan in Jun 1974. Also in September 74 the unit provided extensive flood relief operations in West Bengal and Bihar. From Jul to August of 1975 unit provided relief to victims of ravaging floods in Orissa and Bihar in the process dropping a total of 96 tones of food grains and rescuing 75 passengers.
It was on 21 March 1976 when the unit received the first consignment of the light and agile Chetak helicopters for replacing the old workhorse MI-4 under the requipping scheme of the unit and in May 1983 it moved to its present location. In 1986 the unit was designated as an attack helicopter unit and was afflicated to an Armed Division. During first quarter of 1986 the unit participated in 'Ex-RANVIJAY' at Jaisalmer and Jodhpur area and o4 helicopters carried out the ATGM missions at the ops locations and also in this period the unit maintained its tradition of 100% serviceability state. In mid 1986 the unit took part in Ex-SHAKTI VALLABH and Ex-TRIDENT and carried out ATGM missions for Army.
The unit celebrated its silver jubilee in 1988 and during this year also got the best helicopter crew trophy in August 1988. Again in 1989 the unit was adjudged the best helicopter unit in HQ CAC, IAF for the second consecutive year. Once again in 1992 the unit was awarded the trophy for ' Best Helicopter/Transport Squadron of the year, during September 1992. The unit also participated in Ex-INDRA DHANUSH for integration training along with Armd. Div. In February 1993, the unit participated in Ex-DESERT ARROW with the Army. In September 1993 the unit was involved in massive flood relief operations in Terai Region of Nainital and Bareilly division.
During 1993 the unit was tasked for preparing 2 aircraft with ATGM fitment for UNOSOM II Dett at Somalia on short notice. The motivated technical staff of this unit worked day and night to finish the task. In 1994, fourteen of the unit pilots did live missile firing. In February 1995, the unit participated in HQ 1 Corps Ex-RATHAMBORE. Again in 1996 the unit took part in Ex-GRAND SLAM with four helicopters and 10 pilots. The unit helicopters operated from FARRP the Army under field conditions and flew nearly 268 hours towards ATGM missions and integrated training under realistic conditions. In the second quarter of 1996, the unit took part in Ex-LITTLE SLAM in which 43 hours were flown. Later in September 1996, a one week Joshimath hill dett was carried out for all unit pilots. In October 1996, the unit took active part in Ex-HIMALAYA. On 5 December 1996, the unit was affiliated to HQ 16 Corps instead of HQ 1 Corps.
In 1997, the unit undertook extensive VIP flying in UP Hills. The unit also had the rare distinction of VVIP flying for HE, the King of Nepal on visit to holy shrines of Badrinath and Kedarnath. On 11 November 1997, the unit was awarded the Best Helicopter Unit Trophy by AOC-in-C, CAC. In December 1997, unit helicopters evacuated, 28 ITBP personnel, from Gunji/Kuthi under adverse weather conditions. In March 1998, the unit bettered its flying-time record by flying 336 hrs in a month. On 18 August 1998, when disaster struck Malpa village of Pithoragaon district, the SNOW TIGERS were back in action and carried out 20,605 kgs of load including 8705 kgs load, 119 passengers, 37 dead bodies and 15 casualties in 185 sorties and 75 kgs plus of flying time.
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