Apart from social empowerment and economic growth, India is also focused on building capacity to defend its territorial integrity said President Pranab Mukherjee Friday while awarding Presidential Standard and Colours to two units of the Indian Air Force that included a helicopter unit based in Jamnagar, Gujarat that had played a major role during the August 1999 “Atlantique Crisis” and the November 2008 terrorist attack on Mumbai.
President Mukherjee awarded the Presidential Colours to 28 Equipment Depot and Presidential Standard to 119 Helicopter Unit at a ceremonial parade held at Air Force Station Jamnagar. The Air Officer Commanding of 28 Equipment Depot, Air Commodore NR Chitnis Vishisht Seva Medal and Commanding Officer of 119 Helicopter Unit, Wing Commander Suseem Siwach received the President Colours and Standard respectively.
“India is firmly committed to peace and equality for which we need an effective deterrence and a strong defence force. The nation is striving hard for an all-round economic growth and social empowerment of its citizens. However, we remain equally focused on building capacity to defend our sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said President Mukherjee while addressing a formal gathering held for the awards.
Talking about the 119 Helicopter Unit — also known as “The Stallions” is presently located at Jamnagar and operates Mi-17 V5 helicopters — President Mukherjee said, ” This unit took played a major role during the “Atlantique Crisis” of August 1999 and “Op Black Tornado” after the terrorist attack on Mumbai in November 2008.”
IAF had shot down the Pakistani Naval patrol aircraft in Gujarat after it entered the Indian airspace.
IAF’s operational squadrons become eligible for award of Presidential Standard after completion of 18 years of service. The selection is based on the units performance and achievements during peace as well as hostilities.
The 119 HU unit was raised on March 3, 1972 with Mi-8 helicopters at Guwahati. During the period between 1985-88 this unit was instrumental in carrying out operations in support of counter insurgency operations in Nagaland and in ‘Op Falcon’ in Arunachal Pradesh.
Subsequently the unit was engaged in Sri Lanka as part of the Indian Peace Keeping Force contingent between Oct 1987 to April 1990.
In November 1988, the unit participated in providing assistance to Government of Maldives in foiling a coup attempt by foreign mercenaries. It was also involved in casualty evacuation and relief operations in Sri Lanka after tsunami in 2004.
Meanwhile, taking about the 28 Equipment Depot based at Amla in Madhya Pradesh, the President said, “This is the only kind of unit in the IAF which deals with all facets of air armament stores… The depot has played a significant role in operations of 1965, 1971 and 1999 by providing huge quantity of explosive stores in serviceable condition to the units engaged in the operations. It would not be wrong to say that this depot provides the lethality to the fighter and bomber squadrons of the IAF.”
The 28 Equipment Depot has completed 62 years of service. It was taken over by the IAF on October 1954 from the Indian Army. It has emerged as a one stop solution provider for all Russian origin guided weapons and munitions carrying out periodic and warranty testing modification repair along with OEM. The Amla depot has grown as “mother storage depot” for entire IAF.
The President also released first day covers of both the units at the function. A spectacular display of precision and daredevilry by the Air Warrior Drill team, a fly-past consisting of Jaguar, Mi-17 V5, performance by Surya Kiran aerobatics team and ALH Sarang Display team was also held.