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Squadron 220
"Desert Tigers"

The crest of the squadron was approved by the then President of India, his Excellency S Radhakrishnan on 2 January 1967.

The motto of the Squadron is "Shauryam Tejo Dhritih" which means 'Valour, Energy and Firmness'.

220 Squadron, AF was formed at 2 Wing, Air Force Station Pure. Initially located at Palam as 51 Auxillary Air Force (AAF) Squadron and equipped with Vampire aircraft, it was moved to Pune by HQ, OP Command. 220 Squadron was called the "Fighting Tigers" then. From its birth until just short of the 1965 Indo-Pak war, the role of the squadron was Operational Conversion onto Vampire aircraft of the freshly commissioned pilots. The squadron, later re-equipped with the 'Indigenous HF-24 Marut' in April 1969 and flew the Marut in the 1971 Indo-Pak War. In June 1981, the squadron converted onto the MiG-23BN.

During the Kutch Operations, in the summer of 1965, the squadron moved to Ambala and Pathankot to man two detachments. However, it was not called upon to undertake any active service during this period.

During the Indo-Pak Operations of 1965, in September, the squadron in co-ordination with 45 Squadron, AF moved to Pathankot under the command of 45 Squadron AF. The squadron fought the War under the insignia of 45 Squadron AF.

The task allotted to the squadron was three fold:

  • Fighter Offensive / Close Air Support
  • Ground Attack
  • Air Defence

The squadron initiated a fighter offensive by sending 12 aircraft, seven of which belonged to 220 Squadron to the Chamb-Jaurian sector in support of the armoured corps. Four aircraft were short down by intense ground fire. However, the losses suffered were not in vain, as this mission played a major role in thwarting the enemy advance and boosting the morale of Indian ground forces. The squadron moved to Ambala for two days on 3 September 1965 to fly night CAP sorties. Two day later the squadron moved to Hindon. From 11 to 15 September 1965, four pilots from the squadron were sent to Adampur to carry out Air Defence duties.

The squadron later moved to Palam where it stayed on until the end of operations. Some pilots were sent to Sirsa from where four strikes were carried out against Suleimanke Headworks. After the operations, the squadron moved back to Pune and resumed its training role.

During the Indo-Pak War of 1971, the squadron moved to Utarlai in September 1971. On 4 December 1971 at 0730 hrs, the first mission, a counter Air Offensive to Nawabshah airfield was launched. No enemy aircraft were sighted on the ground but secondary targets were attacked with rockets. Flt Lt Apte was shot down over the target area in the next mission on the same day. He ejected safely but was shot while trying to escape.

For the next four days Tigers flew TAC 'R' and CAS missions in general area Chor-Dera Maro & Longewala. On 5 December 1971, Flt Lt Bhargawa's aircraft was hit by ground fire. On 6 December 1971, Squadron Ldr KK Bakshi shot down one Sabre aircraft. On 14 December 1971, an early morning strike of four aircraft, shot up and destroyed four trains at Mirpurkhas Rly Stn thus disrupting the supply lines in this Sector.

The war came to an end on 17 December 1971. During the 14 days war, the squadron had flown a total of 33 missions and 68 sorties.




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