India Army Aviation : All You Need To Know
Year 1942 saw the inception of the Army Aviation wing of the RAF in India and the first Indian Air Observation Post flight was raised in August 1947. The Air Observation Post remained a small and elite arm throughout the 1950s and on the eve of the 1965 war, the Air Observation Post comprised of only one Squadron and four Flights. The Indo- Pak Wars of 1965 and 1971 were fields and skies of glory for this small band of the winged warriors and aviators made a name for themselves with their innumerable acts of valour and gallantry in the skies. While the Chetaks were inducted in the Army in March 1969, the first of the Cheetas were inducted in 1971.
The Army Aviation Corps came into being on November 1, 1986, and was immediately inducted into “Operation Pawan” which was a crucial test for the newly formed Corps. In more ways than one, it was truly Army Aviation?s baptism by fire and they responded with pride and elan. With the Chetak helicopters taking on the logistic tasks, the Cheetahs christened as Ranjits, operated aggressively mounted with their medium machine guns.
The Siachen Glacier has been the final frontier for the Army Aviation Corps. Routinely operating at 20,000 feet and above on the extreme fringes of its flight envelope, the Cheetah helicopter has been carrying out yeoman service as the workhorse of the glacier. The Army Aviation Corps has singularly been responsible for saving hundreds of lives, besides providing life-sustaining logistic support while operating constantly at super high altitudes; a feat unparalleled by any other Army in the world.
Operation Vijay was Army Aviation’s finest hour when so much was rested on the wings of a motley group of a few good men. Their professionalism, grit, courage and tactical skills and sterling performance was recognised with two Squadrons receiving the Chief of Army Staff’s Unit Citations, two Vir Chakras and innumerable other gallantry awards.
Honours and Awards. For the deeds of valour, the pilots and men of Army Avn have earned themselves a place in the coveted gallery of honours and awards as under:-
|(a) Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM);||05|
|(b) Maha Vir Chakra (MVC)||02|
|(c) Uttam Yudh Seva Medal (UYSM)||03|
|(d) Vir Chakra (VrC)||16|
|(e) Ati Vishisht Seva Medal (AVSM)||10|
|(f) Shaurya Chakra (SC)||11|
|(g) Yudh Seva Medal (YSM)||08|
|(h) Sena Medal (SM)||86|
|(j) Vishisht Seva Medal (VSM)||27|
|(k) Vayu Sena Medal||09|
Sustained participation in CI and CT operations in J&K and the North East India right since its inception has made Army Aviation an inseparable component of combined Arms Team in the ongoing operations. Efforts of these fearless and dedicated Army Aviators has yielded a true Force Multiplier effect in these operations.Best Book For CDS Exam
First Flt of Army Aviation went in Mar 2005 to Democratic Republic of Congo as part of UN Msn (MONUSCO) followed by the replacement of the Flt by a Contingent in Jul 2009. A str of 12 Offrs, 02 JCOs, 52 ORs along with 04 x Cheetah helicopter with NVG mod are dply in CONGO. 6th rotation of the Contingent was carried out in Mar 2011.
Army Aviation, too, has embarked on the path of rapid operational growth keeping in pace with the ongoing modernisation of the Indian Army. The year 2001 saw the raising of the first advanced light helicopter (ALH) Sqn in Army Aviation. Second ALH Sqn, 202 Army Aviation Sqn (UH) was raised in year 2004 followed by 203 Army Aviation Sqn (UH) in year 2007 and 204 Army Aviation Sqn (UH) in year 2009. After raising of four Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Squadrons, the fifth ALH Squadron fitted with more powerful SHAKTI engine specially designed for high altitude ops is under raising at Bangalore providing impetus to the capability enhancement towards utility roles. The ALH nicknamed as “Dhruv” has changed the face of operations in Army Aviation and has already given a major boost to the tactical capability of Army.
Army Aviation reached a historical landmark when for the first time, 202 ALH Squadron of 15 Corps was declared operational by night on 18 Sep 2009 with the capability to operate ALHs by night between nominated/selected helipads within the valley. This was followed by 201 ALH Sqn being declared fully operational by night in Mar 2010 for all utility missions involving troops. Utility aviation support has witnessed a quantum leap with the induction of ALH. Many CI operations in the valley have been possible only due to the totally integrated ALH support being made available.
It is pertinent that to harness such a multitude of potent Force Multiplier there is a need to put in place an effective and responsive command and control structure with adequate flexibility to accept attachment/detachments during various phases of battle. Towards this end, raising of Corps Aviation Brigades is envisaged. As a first step, Corps Aviation Base for 14 Corps has been raised at Leh.
On nearing completion of 25 glorious years on November 1, 2011, the Army Aviation Corps is riding the crest of the Revolution in Military Affairs. Without doubt this is the arm of the future – one whose potential is now only being realised and exploited.
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