Prez honours elite helicopter unit involved in 26/11 ops

Prez honours elite helicopter unit involved in 26/11 ops

Prez honours elite helicopter unit involved in 26/11 ops
President Pranab Mukherjee today honoured the Indian Air Force's elite 119 Helicopter Unit, involved in various counter insurgency operations including the 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai to flush out terrorists, for their outstanding performance.

Mukherjee also accorded 'Colours' to 28 Equipment Depot, the air armament stores division which "provides lethality" to fighter and bomber squadrons of IAF units.

Addressing a function at the crucial and one of the oldest Air Force stations, he said India is firmly committed to peace and equality for which the country needs effective deterrence and a strong defence force.

"The nation is striving hard for all-round economic growth and social empowerment of its citizens. However, we remain equally focused on building capacity to defend our sovereignty and territorial integrity.

"Our Armed Forces give us confidence in the nation's ability to face any aggression and safeguard its interests. The Air Warriors, who stand before us today, epitomise the grit and the determination in fulfilling their responsibilities by upholding the highest standards of service ethos," the President said addressing men and women of the Air Force.

Mukherjee, who is the supreme commander of the defence forces, said the Indian Air Force has been fulfilling its role of protecting the Indian skies and safeguarding the sovereignty of the nation and also provided aid to citizens during natural calamities.

"The massive relief operations undertaken by the Indian Air Force during many natural calamities in the past is all etched in our memories. Such operations are shining examples of the fortitude and determination of its gallant air warriors," he said.

The President honoured 119 Helicopter Unit with 'Standard' and he 28 Equipment Depot with 'Colours' for their outstanding performance.

119 Helicopter Unit was raised in Guwahati in March 1972 as 'Angels of Mercy' with Mi-8 helicopters.
Initially, the unit flew extensively in support of counter insurgency operations in Nagaland and 'Operation Falcon' in Arunachal Pradesh to check Chinese incursion.

It took part in 'Operation Cactus' in November 1988 (which is India's intervention for restoration of government's rule in Maldives) and played a major role during the 'Atlantique Crisis' of August 1999 (in which a Pakistan's Navy plane was gunned down) and 'Operation Black Tornado' after the terrorist attack on Mumbai in November 26, 2008, Mukherjee said.

The unit now operates the newly acquired Mi-17 V5 helicopters. It had undertaken humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations in Gujarat and Nepal recently.

The 28 Equipment Depot, which deals with all facets of air armament stores, has completed 62 years of service to the nation.

The Depot played a significant role in the operations of 1965, 1971 and 1999 wars by providing huge quantity of explosive stores in serviceable condition to the units engaged in operations.

"It would not be wrong to say that this Depot provides the lethality to the fighter and bomber squadrons of the Indian Air Force. In the years gone by, the Depot has been a trend-setter in innovation and has successfully modified the life-expired live missiles into its training version," the President said.

During the programme, there were fly pasts by three Mi-17 helicopters each with the national flag and a Jaguar fighter aircraft.
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