IAF resurrects No.18 squadron, equips it with LCA Tejas

IAF resurrects No.18 squadron, equips it with LCA Tejas aircraft

The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Wednesday (May 27) operationalised its legendary No. 18 squadron, 'Flying Bullets' equipping it with the fourth-generation LCA Tejas aircraft at the Sulur Air Force station near Coimbatore.

This will be the second IAF squadron to fly LCA Tejas in the country and IAF chief Air Marshal RKS Bhadauria flew the fighter aircraft himself before operationalising the squadron. The low-key ceremony, the first major event of the IAF after the COVID-19 outbreak, began with an inter-faith prayer and ended with the induction of the new fighter aircraft.

The LCA Tejas aircraft was built at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in Bengaluru. The first squadron is known as the Number-45 Flying Daggers which is also headquartered at the same base.  

The Squadron was flying MiG 27 aircraft before it got number plated on 15 April 2016, while it was resurrected on April 1 this year at Sulur. Officials said the aircraft is equipped with a fly-by-wire flight control system, integrated digital avionics, multimode radar, and its structure is made out of composite material.

The squadron, which actively participated in the 1971 Indo-Pak war, was formed on April 15, 1965 with the motto ‘Teevra aur Nirbhaya’ meaning ‘Swift and Fearless’. The LCA Tejas is the lightest and smallest in its group of fourth-generation supersonic combat aircraft, they said.

The Squadron actively participated in the 1971 War with Pakistan and was decorated with the highest gallantry award ‘Param Vir Chakra’ awarded to Flying Officer Nirmal Jit Singh Sekhon posthumously. The squadron had also earned the sobriquet of ‘Defenders of Kashmir Valley’ by being the first to land and operate from Srinagar, while it was presented with President’s Standard in November 2015.

HAL Chairman R Madhavan said the PSU was proud to deliver a much lethal aircraft than the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) block. “Apart from all the capabilities of IOC aircraft, the FOC variant additionally comes with air-to-air refueling capability, close combat gun, additional drop tanks, Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile capability, updated avionics, and flight control software suite,” he said in a statement.

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