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Squadron 224
"Warlords"

The Squadron crest depicts a warrior on his chariot, proceeding to war. The fearless warrior at all times is in high state of readiness, with his weapons aimed at the enemies. He is the 'Strongest of All the Warriors' and this he has achieved by the rigrous training, determination and dedication. The chariot signifies the weapon platform which is lethal and highly flexible. The horses signify power and strength. This warrior-chariot combination would prove to be deadly to any adversary and this makes him a 'WARLORD', which he is proud to be.

The Warlords came into being on 4 July 1983 at Adampur with the then ASF MiG MF. A relatively young squadron, it soon became operational with its primary role Air Defence and secondry as Ground Attack. The squadron actively participated in providing air defence cover of Punjab sector in peace time and the northern area since its inception.

The squadron is equipped with MiG-23, a swing wing fighter, capable of delivering an array of missiles, bombs and guided weapons.

The Squadron has participated in "Op Meghdoot" i.e. ops in Siachin glacier area, extensively. The Squadron undrtook such operations relentleslly from 1985 to 1996, a feat with very less units in the IAF could boast of, in the present scenario.

The Squadron has the distinction of having operated from highest IAF airfield Leh, located at 11000 ft AMSL. The Squadron had been a regular operator from this formidable airfield with inhospitable terrain and adverse weather phenomenon, typical to its geography, successfully year after year. This Squadron was the first to operate two aircraft from Thoise airfield.

The Squadron has been entrusted with banner target towing for air to air F/G firing training. This task is in addition to op task that handled by the Squadron.

The Squadron became operational with its primary role as Air Defence (AD) and the secondary role as Ground Attack (GA). The 'Warlords' moved from Adampur to nearby Halwara, also in Punjab in April '96 and then to Jamnagar, in Western Gujrat in September '97. The Squadron was actively involved in providing AD cover over the western sector since its inception till shifting location to Jamnagar, where it continued to do the same. In the latters years, the Squadron was assigned both AD and GA roles in addition to the peace time secondary role of Banner Target Towing (BTT).

Having soared the Indian skies for nearly 24 years and logging nearly 32,581 flying hours, 224 Squadron of the IAF, christened the 'Warlords' on 20 March 2007, ended their tryst with the veritable 'air superiority fighter' (ASF) of its times, the MiG-23 MF fighters belonging to the squadron took to the sky for one last time. The historic flights took place at the frontline Air Force Station (AFS) Jamnagar under the South Western Air Command (SWAC) heralding their transition into the annals of military aviation history while also marking the end of an era with the IAF. The Air Chief, AOC-in-C, SWAC and the Commodore Commandant of the Squadron will be among those present bidding adieu to this venerable flying machine that is set to transcend into the aviation folklore.

The last flight of the MiG-23 MF brought to an end temporarily on 31 March 2007, the 'Warlords' operations as it got 'number-plated', an euphemism that in IAF parlance signifies the temporary ceasing of a flying squadrons, 223 and 224, raised to counter the F-16 threat from across the border, ever operated this swing-wing variant of the MiG-23s that were inducted in the early 1980s. While the former switched over to the MiG-29 ASF in May 1989, only 224 squadron continued operating this aircraft.

After the last symbolic flight by the squadron, the 'Warlords' took a brief hiatus until Air HQ allots them a new role and restores them back in their new avatar. No. 224 Squadron was raised on July 4, 1983 at AFS Adampur in Punjab. The first Commanding Officer (CO) of the Squadron was Wing Commander RA Massey Vr C. The Squdron was commanded as of 2007 by Wg Cdr K Khajuria and between them altogether 13 COs had commanded the Squadron till date.

The peacetime secondary role of the squadron that of BTT is extremely vital towards honing the air-to-air firing skills of IAF's fighter pilots. A banner made of a very special fabric of the dimensions 9 X 3 meters is attached behind the tow aircraft, which is specially modified with a cable extending up to 320 meters. The tow aircraft flies a pre-set pattern and the other fighters of IAF practice firing of their front guns upon the banner target. At the end of the exercise the banner is jettisoned at a pre-designated point and the bullet hits are counted to judge the accuracy of firing. The banner and the tail of the towing aircraft are painted orange to facilitate spotting by the firing aircraft.

In their nearly two-and-a-half decades of operations, the 'Warlords' have participated in various operations that include 'Op Meghdoot' in the air defence of Siachen Glacier are from 1985-86. In a unique first, the Squadron has the rare distinction of having operated from Leh, the highest airfield in India, located at 11,000 feet above mean sea level (AMSL). The Squadron also has the unique distinction of being the first fighter aircraft to ever operate from Thoise airfield in Ladakh. These airfields owing to their high altitude, limit the performance of the aircraft, thereby reducing the margin for error considerably. The MiG-23 MF by virtue of its very powerful engine can operate under such marginal conditions with an experienced pilot on controls. And the first landing is most significant given the complete absence of any datum for reference. The Warlords were adjudged the 'Best Over-all' Fighter Squadron of the Western Air Command in 1985-86.

In 'Op Safed Sagar', the Squadron operated a six-aircraft detachment in Western sector during Kargil Operations and undertook round-the-clock air defence of Saurashtra and Kutchh area. During 'Op Parakram', the Squadron operated from two locations in the Rajasthan Sector. The Squadron continued to remain deployed there even after cessation of 'Op Parakram' for air defence duties. The Squadron also participated in 'Ex-Vayu Shakti' or the 'Fire Power Demonstration' of the IAF held at Pokharan range in February '99 and '04 where they were tasked to carry out low level banner towing in formation apart from dropping the flare bomb to be used as a target for air-to-air missile firing.




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