45 Squadron, Flying Daggers
The first Tejas unit of the IAF, No. 45 Squadron, Flying Daggers, was formed on July 1, 2016 at Bangalore. The Squadron moved from there to Air Force Station Sulur on July 1, 2018 and is presently based there. The shifting of the No 45 Squadron, Flying Daggers, operating the Tejas, from Bengaluru to Sulur on June 12, 2018, probably changed the dimensions of this base on all counts. With the moving in of 45 Sqn, similar to the Sarangs, the Old Bangalore airport (HAL) got decluttered of post-production aircraft, making it easier for more platforms to be produced and test-flown. The spares flow is easy to sustain over a 365-km separation and crucially, Tamil Nadu gained an asset class over which it is proud.
In 1961, the Indian Air Force was tasked to provide air support to the massive ground force deployed for Goa Liberation. The AOC-in-C of the Western Air Command, Air Vice Marshal Eric Pinto, was appointed theatre commander of the IAF operations for Goa Liberation.
It was at Sambra that most of the air components were concentrated. No 45 Squadron had their main detachment of 8 aircraft based there.
Tension between India and Pakistan had steadily escalated over the years, culminating on 1 September 1965 in a massive attack in the Chhamb sector by Pakistani forces. Possessing the initiative in having chosen the time and place to strike and enjoying overwhelming numerical superiority in the sector in both armour and troops, Pakistan posed a grave threat to Indian forces on the ground and so, in response to urgent requests for air strikes against Pakistani armour advancing in the Chhamb-Jaurian sector, Vampire FBMk.52s of No. 45 Squadron, at the time undergoing operational training at a forward base, mounted their first sorties at 1745 hours on the first day of the conflict, and on their heels came the Mysteres of Nos.3 and 31 Squadrons operating from Pathankot. The Pakistani armoured thrust was staggered.
The Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) "Tejas" was inducted into No. 45 Squadron of Indian Air Force (IAF) on July 1, 2016. No 45 Squadron, also called the "Flying Daggers", was last equipped with MiG 21 Bis Aircraft and operated from Nalia. Its motto is "Ajeet Nabha". The Squadron will operate from Bangalore for nearly two years before it moves to its designated location at Sulur near Coimbatore. It is the first fighter Squadron to be a part of the Southern Air Command of IAF headquartered at Thiruvananthapuram.
Gp Capt Madhav Rangachari, an alumnus of the National Defence Academy, is the Commanding Officer of Flying Daggers. He flew the inaugural flight of LCA in 45 Squadron. Apart from operational experience on Mirage-2000 and MiG 21, he also has considerable experience on flight testing of LCA prototypes.
Tejas is the Fly-by-Wire (FBW) first advance fighter aircraft designed, developed and manufactured in India. Conceived as a MiG-21 replacement, the aircraft has been designed and developed by Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and produced by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). It is to the credit of its designers, manufacturer, technicians and test crew, that LCA has flown more than 3000 sorties / 2000 hrs till date without any accident. Tejas is a 4th Plus generation aircraft with a glass cockpit and is equipped with state of the art Satellite aided Inertial Navigation System. It has a digital computer based attack system and an autopilot. It can fire air-to-air Missiles, bombs as well as Precision Guided Munitions.
The induction of the aircraft is being planned in a phased manner. The IOC aircraft are armed with Close Combat air to air Missiles, Helmet Mounted Display and Precision Guided Weapons like Laser Guided Bombs. These aircraft are also capable of dropping unguided bombs with much higher accuracy due to highly advanced indigenous mission computer. The FOC aircraft would incorporate Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missiles, improved and better stand-off weapons and air to air refueling capability. IAF is also pitching for additional LCA Mk 1A which would incorporate new generation Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) Radar with simultaneous air to air and air to ground capability, an integrated advanced Electronic Warfare Suite, advanced versions of air to air and air to ground weapons and maintainability improvements.
With 45 Squadron commencing operations, the Tejas would be employed to defend the Indian skies.
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