President Ram Nath Kovind today said while India was fully committed to peace, it would use all its might to protect the sovereignty of the nation. At a function to present the President’s Standards to the 223 Squadron and 117 Helicopter Unit of the Indian Air Force at Adampur in Punjab, Kovind also complimented the air warriors for their “impeccable turnout and smart movement”.
“India’s rise in the international system has many dimensions to it. But it draws heavily from the capabilities and valour of our armed forces,” he said. The president said citizens slept securely because they knew the forces were there to protect them.
“Though we remain firmly committed to peace, we are determined to use all our might to protect the sovereignty of our nation. Each time we have had to do so, our valiant men and women in uniform have risen to the occasion,” an official release quoted the president as saying.
The armed forces “exemplified by the air warriors… secure the values, traditions and beliefs embodied in our democratic Constitution,” he said.
The 223 Squadron, or the Tridents, was formed on May 10, 1982, in Adampur. It was initially equipped with the MiG-23 which was later upgraded to the formidable MiG-29 fighter aircraft. The squadron has a remarkable operational record.
The president said the squadron is one of the few that remains alert 365 days a year and lives up to its motto of ‘Vijyaya amogh-astraha’ (ultimate weapon for victory).
The 117 Helicopter Unit, or the Himalayan Dragons, was raised on February 1, 1971, at Air Force Station, Bareilly. The unit gained its initial experience in the India-Pakistan War of 1971, on the Eastern theatre. It moved to Hasimara in 1983 and flew extensive air maintenance and casualty evacuation missions in the Northeast.
The unit moved to the Sarsawa Air Force Station in January, 1988. In various operations pertaining to providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions, the unit has worked tirelessly in helping civilians.
“It has an appropriate motto ‘Aapatsu mitram’ (friend in distress). That is exactly what it is to so many of our fellow citizens,” he said.
The ceremony was held at the Air Force Station Adampur, which is among the oldest and best-known bases of the Indian Air Force. From a small airstrip, it has grown to a fully operational base, hosting a variety of weapon systems and has been operational since its inception in 1947.
The president said both the units being honoured today had a history of professional excellence. “The nation honours them with a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation for dedication and courage in the face of adversity.
“I compliment the air warriors on parade for their impeccable turnout and smart movement,” he said.