A SQUADRON of MiG-21 aircraft led by Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa on Monday flew in the Missing Man formation to pay tribute to Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja who was killed in action in Operation Safed Sadar during the Kargil war. “We remember Ajay Ahuja with a feeling of nostalgia, he was our flight commander. We had served together twice in the past, in 101 and 29 squadron. He was my number two and flight commander, every year we pay homage to him by flying in the Missing Man formation. We will do the same tomorrow with helicopters in Sarsawan, I will also take part in it,” Dhanoa told ANI here.
Dhanoa also talked about how the Kargil war had made IAF gain capabilities in mountain warfare by forcing it to adapt to the job at hand. “The Kargil war built the Air Force’s capability to fight in the mountains and it also built the capability to take out small targets. Usually, in wars you don’t let the enemy cross, you take out their supply lines, we learnt a lot during that time,” he said.
Air Marshal R Nambiar also took part in the exercise being held in the honour of the Kargil War martyr at the Indian Air Force base in Bhisiana. Kargil War, also known as the Kargil conflict, was an armed conflict between India and Pakistan that took place between May and July 1999 in the Kargil district of Kashmir and elsewhere along the LoC. The IAF had played a key role in enabling the Indian Army to recapture the majority of the positions on the Indian side of the LOC infiltrated by the Pakistani troops and terrorists. The war came to an end on July 26 with a decisive victory for India as it regained Kargil and Pakistan being criticised globally for instigating war and for making its paramilitary forces cross the LoC.
Kargil War Air Operation : May 27, 1999: On 27 May 1999, as part of Operation Safed Sagar in Kargil, a photo reconnaissance mission was launched over the Indian side of the line of control in Kashmir. Just as Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja was about to take flight, he was informed that a fellow officer , Flt Lt Nachiketa had ejected from his MiG-27 aircraft after an engine flame out. Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja took it upon himself to locate his fellow officer and stayed over infiltrator held positions to help the rescue attempts.
Despite the threat of surface-to-air missiles in the area he stayed on and by sheer perseverance, could locate the possible location of the crashed aircraft and the pilot. Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja passed on the crucial information to the mission control room to enable them to launch the rescue helicopters. However, his MiG-21MF fighter, C-1539, was hit by a shoulder-fired FIM-92 Stinger missile. Sqn Ldr Ahuja gave a radio call – “Hercules, something has hit my plane, possibility of missile hit cannot be ruled out, I am ejecting over…(location).”.With exemplary presence of mind and professionalism he attempted to steer the aircraft towards a safer area.
But when the aircraft engine flamed out, Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja had no choice but to eject. He ejected safely and had the presence of mind to transmit his last recorded ground position. But under dubious circumstances he got killed and was martyred. The body of Sqn Ldr Ajay Ahuja was handed over to Indian authorities by Pakistan on 28 May 1999. Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja displayed exceptional courage in going beyond the call of duty for carrying out the assigned search mission. Sqn Ldr Ajay Ahuja was given the gallantry award, “Vir Chakra” posthumously for his undaunted courage, professionalism and supreme sacrifice.
Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja is survived by his wife Alka and son Ankur. Rafale will prove to be the game-changer for IAF ACM BS Dhanoa: AIR Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa on Monday said that Rafale combat aircraft would prove to be a “game-changer” for the Indian Air Force (IAF) as it would tilt the balance of power back in India’s favour. “IAF is about to get two squadrons of Rafale. Rafale has the capability that no enemy can interfere in the air operations which is a big thing. It will come and change the balance back to us,” he told ANI here.