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Helicopter Unit 118
"Challengers"

The unit crest of 118 HU, AF "THE CHALLENGER" consists of three rotor blades superimposed over the mountain on top depicting snow clad mighty Himalayas and water on the bottom depicting the Brahamaputra river in all its glory. The scenario depicts the area of operations of 118 HU since inception (apart from the basic of VVIP/VIP, the unit also carries out Causality Evaluation as and when need arises). The unit has been operating into the far reaches of Himalayas doing Air Logistics in aid of the state government of Arunanchal Pradesh as well as the Indian Army deployed along the IB with neighboring China. Helicopters of the unit has been tasked with flood relief operation for the entire north east and has also undertaken extensive flood relief operations in the other parts of the country and the adjoining country of Bhutan.

In keeping with Plethora of roles that the unit has been carrying out, in aid of civil authorities the unit adopted its motto of "Aaptsu Mitram" "meaning " THE FRIEND IN NEED".

In peaceful time the unit continuous to meet all task assigned from time to time by Headquarters Eastern Air Command. Apart from routine VIP/VVIP commitments, the unit maintains an Air Logistics detachment Ex-Ziro district of Arunachal Pradesh. Air Logistics supply is provided in aid of Arunachal Pradesh district supply transport, No. 9 Assam Rifles and the Border Roads. The unit also undertakes special tasks allotted at times even upto the International border with China.

The unit was formed on 22 November 1971 under the command of Wg Cdr RD Pant, VM, it was first unit to be equipped with the versatile MI-8 helicopters. The unit took an active part in IPKF operations in Sri Lanka in 1987. This unit has been providing assistance to civil authorities in entire North East, West Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa. This being earmarked as a VIP unit, it has been involved in providing airlift to President, Vice President, Prime Minister of India and visiting foreign dignitaries on a number of occasions.

In June 1972, the unit undertook communication duties during the Shimla accord signed between Mrs Indira Gandhi and Mr ZA Bhutto, Prime Minister of India and Pakistan respectively.

The unit carried out extensive flood relief operations in Cachar district of Assam, air dropping 13774 Kgs of food supplies in May 1973.

June 1973 the unit commenced Air Maintenance operations Ex-Chabua, Jorhat and Mohanbari.

In April 1974, the unit undertook communication duties for the Prime Minister of India, other heads of States, Ambassadors and other high-ranking officials for the Coronation of King of Bhutan. The unit carried out special heliborne operations to induct Indian army troops into Nagaland in Sep 1974, in order to capture Naga hostiles trying to enter India from China, a total of 1000 troops were airlifted.

In May 1975 the unit was tasked with ferrying from main land India to Andaman Nicobar Islands and carrying out trial landings at most of the Andaman Islands. These efforts have resulted in the establishment of inter Island communication by a heavy helicopter and subsequently of establishing a MI-8 flight at Carnicobar. That month, the unit was also tasked to airlift emergencies food supplies to central Bhutan involving a total of 34,117 Kgs. It also undertook the task of flying India's first satellite "Aryabhatta" underslung for telemetry trials. The task was accomplished in keeping with highest standards of professionalism of the Indian Air Force.

The unit carried out emergency food dropping in Nagaland and Arunanchal Pradesh in August 1975 and flood relief and rescue operations in Bihar in September 1975.

In October 1978 the unit airlifted equipment, personnel and supplies for geological survey of India during the search for copper mines in the mountains of Bhutan.

In July 1980, the unit airlifted a total of 109612 Kgs of food supplies for the Government of Mizoram and 63,222 Kgs of supplies for the flood victims of Orissa.

The unit undertook the first ever helicopter services for civilians in India in May 1982. The flights were undertaken civilians in India in May 1982. The flights were undertaken for the Govt of Sikkim from Bagdogra to Gangtok. The first passengers included the then foreign minister Shri PV Narasimha Rao.

In March 1986, the unit entrusted the privilege of flying Her Majesty the Queen of Netherlands and His Holiness Pope John Paul-II.

In October 1987 two helicopters of the unit took off for Jaffna, Srilanka as part of EAC, IAF task force. The aircraft were extensively employed for troop induction, logistic support and casuality evacuation. The then Commanding Officer, Wg Cdr CD Upadhyay was awarded Vir Chakra.

In July 1994, the unit was called upon to provide succor to the flood victim of Orissa. In a short period of 09 days a total of 145,000 Kgs was airlifted. The then Chief Minister of Orissa, Shri Biju Patnaik personally wrote a letter to the Chief of Air Staff in appreciation of the unit efforts.

In June 1998, the unit was called upon to carry out extensive flood relief operations in Subansisi district of Arunanchal Pradesh.




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