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Squadron 37
"Black Panthers"

The Squadron's motto "SADAIV NIRBHIK" means" Forever Fearless" enshrines the history, embodies the traditions and represents the ethos of the Squadron.

37 Squadron of the Indian Air Force was formed on 23 December 1957 at Air Force Station Palam with the motto "Forever Fearless", and was alloted the crest BLACK PANTHERS. At inception the squadron was equipped with Vampire night fighters. The first few Vampires to fly in squadron colours flew in on 31 January 1958 from BRD Kanpur. It was a short but eventful stint for the Squadron.

On 28 December 1959 the Black Panthers moved to Jamnagar to attend the advanced Gunnery Course. They spent a few months steading their trigger fingers and having finished the course moved to Poona on 20 Feb 60 with nine fighters. 1960 brought laurels to Black Panthers. No sooner had they set their paws on Maratha soil than they were called upon to participate in the Air Force Day celebration flypast over Bombay. The beginning of 1961 saw the Black Panthers giving an excellent demonstration of fire power at Poona for the Chief of Air Staff of the United Arab Republic. This was followed by active participation in Ex AKRAMAN at Jamnagar.

On 15 November 1962 the Black Panthers switched over to Hunter 56 day fighters with the role of ground attack and air defence. Soon after the squadron moved to Ambala to participate in the Command Gunnery Meet. In August 1963 the squadron participated in Ex AASMAN. In February 1964, the Squadron moved from Poona to Chabua.

During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, the Squadron was based at Chabua, when hostilities broke out. The Squadron was given the task of launching offensive action in the Eastern Sector and of providing air defence in the Western Sector. To achieve this task a detachment of four aircraft was sent to Guwahati and a detachment of 12 aircraft was sent to Hindon. The Squadron, with its divided resources, carried out the task in its traditional competent manner. In the eastern sector the offensive was launched from Guwahati and strikes were carried out against enemy airfield at Kurmitola. In the western sector the Squadron carried out ORP duties at Hindon providing effective air defence to Hindon and the Capital.

The Black Panthers moved to Tezpur from Chabua at the end of March 1966. The Squadron continued to meet its operational commitments in the eastern sector.

The 37 Squadron played an important role towards the liberation of Bangladesh from Pakistan during the war of December 1971. The Squadron flew a total of 187 sorties comprising Fighter Reconnaissance, Counter Air and Close Air Support Missions from Hasimara. Before the start of the actual war, the Squadron provided information about the enemy disposition through its extensive reconnaissance capability and thereafter participated in almost all the battles that were fought on ground to defeat the enemy.

The Squadron carried out a total of 18 sorties of Flight Reconnaissance Missions prior to the commencement of actual hostilities on the following dates, covering the undermentioned areas and features :

  • Lal Munirhat airfield (20 Oct. 71)
  • Hilli area and new airfield at Saidpur (04 Nov. 71)
  • Railway station, ferry & dug in gun positions at Jamalpur and Sherpur (16 Nov. 71)
  • Bunkers, dug in troops and vehicles at Dinajpur and Sahibgunj (18 Nov. 71)
  • Bunkers and dug in troops at Bharungmari (22 Nov. 71)

On 4 December 1971, the Squadron carried out counter air operations against Tejgaon and Kumaritola airfields and flew a total 18 sorties. Considerable damage was caused to the airfields, but the Squadron lost two aircraft in these missions and shot one Sabre aircraft close to Dacca.

During the battle in Hilli Area which took place between 5 and 9 December 1971, most of the flying effort of the Squadron was directed towards providing close air support to the Army for the battle in Hilli area. During this period a total of 48 sorties were flown for close air support, 20 sorties for interdiction and 4 sorties for combat air patrol. The Squadron utilised rockets, guns, napalm and 100 lb bombs and engaged targets like troops on the ground, bunkers, tanks, vehicles, bridges, railway stations, barges etc.

During the battle in the Rangpur/Jamalpur Area, the squadron was tasked to provide close air support and carry out interdiction in the Rangpur/Jamalpur area. The interdiction on Rangpur Badarganj railway line commenced on 9 December 71. After the initial armed reccee sorties, the actual attack commenced on 10 December 1971 and lasted for two days. A total of 28 sorties were flown on 10 December 1971. Apart from other targets a brigade headquarters at Rangpur was engaged and considerable damage was caused to the retreating Pakistani troops from Hilli area.

During the Battles in the Bogra/Tangail/Dacca Areas, and before the commencement of operations in this area on 12 December 1971, reconnaissance sorties were flown on 11 December 1971 covering Mymen Singh, Madhupur and Tangail area. The attack commenced on 12 December 1971 and continued till 15 December 1971. During this period wide ranging targets were engaged at Tangail, Bogra, Silgory, Saidpur, Fardpur, Nilphamari and Nator. A total of 40 sorties were flown. Apart from the conventional targets engaged by the Squadron two sorties were flown to attack the Government house at Dacca on 14 December 1971. The culmination of the war came when the Squadron mounted eight sorties over Pakistani Army Headquarters in Dacca University on 15 December 1971.

The black Panthers contributed significantly towards the IAF tasks in the liberation of Bangladesh. During the 12 days of war, the Squadron lost two aircraft and two pilots.

The Squadron moved to Kalaikunda in December 1973. During the period 1974 to 1976, the Squadron continued with its operational task in the Eastern Sector and also undertook the additional commitments of conversion training of pilots on Hunter aircraft. In 1975, the Squadron won the Eastern Command armament trophy and added another feather to its cap.

In February 1977, the Squadron was re-equipped with the aircraft MiG 21M and moved to Adampur for operational duties. The role of the Squadron, ground attack/air defence, remained unchanged. Within a short period the Squadron and personnel achieved operational status. After a brief stint at Chandigarh from 1983-85, the Squadron moved to its present location on 13 February 1985. Black Panthers have been thundering across the skies of the only desert air base of WAC, IAF since then.

In December 1960, the Squadron won the gunnery trophy in the Inter Unit Gunnery Meet at Tilpat range. In 1975 the Squadron won the Eastern Air Command Armament Trophy. In 1977 the Black Panthers were adjudged the best Squadron in WAC for operational efficiency and flight safety. In 1997 the Squadron won the WAS Flight Safety Trophy for nil Human error accident in 10,000 flying hours. Many personnel of the Squadron have earned decorations and commendations of the Chief of the Air Staff and Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 02:44:02 ZULU