Two fighter squadrons of the Indian Air Force (IAF) have introduced special uniform patches for their members to commemorate the air battle which took place between IAF and Pakistan Air Force (PAF) on February 27 this year in Jammu and Kashmir and Pak Occupied Kashmir (PoK).
What are uniform patches?
The patches are cloth badges worn by the aircrew posted in a particular squadron on their flying overalls. These denote the squadron identity and, often, any special action in which the unit may have taken part in. Special patches are also designed and worn for participating in air exercises, both national and international, during the duration on these patches.
What are the new patches acquired by the two squadrons?
Both the squadrons, a MIG-21 BISON and a Sukhoi-30 MKI, took part in the air action on February 27 when they took on the intruding PAF aircraft who dropped bombs on the Indian territory. While Wing Commander Abhinandan’s Squadron has claimed the title of ‘Falcon Slayers’ for his feat of shooting down an F-16 aircraft, as claimed by IAF, before being shot down himself, the Sukhoi-30 squadron has tried to commemorate the fact that its aircraft successfully defeated the AMRAAM missiles fired at them by PAF F-16s. Thus they have taken the name ‘AMRAAM Dodgers’. However, this name is likely to be changed as the higher IAF authorities have opined that ‘dodger’ was not an appropriate word.
What is the significance of patches for pilots?
While patches provide a much-needed ego boost for the aircrew as a whole, be it fighter pilots, transport aircraft crew or helicopter crew, however, fighter pilots have a special affinity for them as patches denoting success in operations act as morale boosters. Fighter flying is a high adrenaline action which puts the pilot on an edge and patches are something that sustains and improve that edge. Pride in the squadron, its legacy and a desire to live up to the past successes help knit a cohesive and combative team.