Flying Daggers celebrate first Diwali at new base

Flying Daggers celebrate first Diwali at new base
The number of Tejas fighters are set to increase in the next few months. Photo: Praveen Photoyogi

Bengaluru: The No 45 Squadron, Flying Daggers, operating the Light Combat Aircraft (Tejas), celebrated their first Diwali at their new base at Air Force Station Sulur.

Flying Daggers moved from Bengaluru to AFS Sulur this July and in the last four months the squadron members were on a settling mode with many administrative hurdles to tide over.

The Indian Air Force (IAF), on its part, ensured that the young squadron got their operational requirements on priority, at their new base.

Air Marshal Balakrishnan Suresh, the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Air Command, Thiruvananthapuram, told Onmanorama, that the Flying Daggers have overcome all teething issues linked to setting up the new base.

“Moving from Bengaluru to Sulur made all the difference and the boys are really a happy lot now. I sat with them during one of their missions in a forward area recently and they are all satisfied with way the squadron is shaping. This Diwali will be very special for them as it is their first one as Flying Daggers unit and at their new base,” said Air Marshal Suresh.

He said the serviceability of the squadron has improved in the last one month, giving more planes for boys to fly.

“At the end of the day what matters is the availability of flying machines for the squadron. The serviceability has been better and the squadron has been able to train as per their expectations, which is a good sign,” Air Marshal Suresh said.

At AFS Sulur, the Flying Daggers are sharing the air space with the Sarangs (151 HU), the Mi-17 V5 Knights (109 HU) and the AN-32 (33 Sqn) Soaring Storks.

An official with AFS Sulur said the Tejas pilots are now flying to their heart’s content with the number of fighters set to increase in the next few months.

“Many air and ground crew members are getting trained with the Flying Daggers. We are hopeful of getting more fighters by March, 2019, and this would give more options to the team. Two more fighters are on their way to join the squadron after their acceptance flights,” and official said.

The Flying Daggers were part of the recent Air Force Day celebrations at Hindon and they are now being regularly part of many operational training missions, including weapon detachments.

In February, 2019, Flying Daggers will be part of the Exercise Vayu Shakti, exhibiting aerial dog fight and bombing skills along with some of the finest frontline strikers of the IAF. Soon after this exercise, the Tejas squadron will be at AFS Yelahanka for the 12th edition of Aero India from February 20 to 24.

“We are closely monitoring the progress of the squadron. With more Tejas set to join the fleet and more air warriors getting trained, Flying Daggers is steadily becoming a formidable force to reckon with,” added Air Marshal Suresh.

(The writer is an independent aerospace, defence journalist, who blogs at Tarmak007 and tweets @writetake.)