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Kargil Vijay Diwas: How the 'Golden arrows' squadron brought victory home

Kargil Vijay Diwas: In the Kargil war, the golden arrows played a major role in Operation Safed Sagar - which was the first large-scale use of Airpower in the Jammu and Kashmir region since the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.

Sri Lasya Edited By: Sri Lasya @laasiyapriya New Delhi Published on: July 26, 2022 16:42 IST
Kargil diwas: The squadron was formed in 1951, and
Image Source : PTI/REPRESENTATIVE Kargil diwas: The squadron was formed in 1951, and initially, it flew de Havilland Vampire F Mk 52 fighters.

Kargil Vijay Diwas: In 1999 on July 26, India scripted history by emerging victorious over Pakistan in the Kargil war - a landmark has been set then.

Every year, this day is marked to commemorate the win, and to pay homage to the jawans who sacrificed their lives for the country. On this day, we take a look at the Ambala-based ‘Golden Arrows’ squadron that brought the victory home.

The squadron was responsible for the command of Rafale fighter jets at Ambala airbase. In the Kargil war, the golden arrows played a major role in Operation Safed Sagar - which was the first large-scale use of Airpower in the Jammu and Kashmir region since the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.

The squadron was formed in 1951, and initially, it flew de Havilland Vampire F Mk 52 fighters. The squadron, which operated from Bhatinda air base, was disbanded in 2016 after the IAF started gradual phasing out of Russian-origin Mig 21 jets.

Golden Arrows: Key Operations 

The Golden arrows undertook many key operations in Indian history. Some of the major ones include the Goa Liberation war in 1961, the India-Pakistan war in 1965, the Battle of Longewala in 1971 and most notably the Kargil war. 

For the commendable job during the Kargil war, the 17 Squadron won the most gallantry awards from the IAF.

The squadron was awarded the coveted ‘Battle Honours’ for its meritorious performance in the operations. This prestigious unit also won the maximum number of honours and awards amongst the Air Force units which participated in Op Safed Sagar, including a Vir Chakra which was awarded to Sqn Ldr Ajay Ahuja posthumously for his gallantry during the conflict.

  • The 'Golden Arrows' 17 Squadron was commanded by Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa during the Kargil war in 1999.
  • The squadron, which operated from Bhatinda air base, was disbanded in 2016 after the IAF started gradual phasing out of Russian-origin Mig 21 jets.
  • Under Dhanoa, Squadron expanded its horizons and took on the process of becoming the repository of information on the entire subject of FR. 
  • The Golden Arrows ferried out their big birds on 18 May 99 to a base in the northern sector and air operations began with a reconnaissance mission flown on 21 May 99. 
  • The accurate photo reconnaissance missions confirmed the presence of Pakistan-backed intruders on the icy heights over-looking the Srinagar-Leh Highway and air strikes began on 26 May 99.
  • It was for the first time since 1971 that air strikes were being carried out on the enemy, and Golden Arrows were actively involved in Bomb Damage Assessment missions. 
  • The Squadron even carried out ground attack missions by day and night in the most formidable weather and geographical conditions.  

(with inputs from agencies)

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