IAF operationalises No. 18 Squadron ‘Flying Bullets’, equips it with LCA Tejas

(Source: @IAF_MCC)

New Delhi (NVI): The Indian Air Force today operationlised its No. 18 Squadron, the “Flying Bullets” while equipping it with locally made Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas FOC at an event in Sulur near Coimbatore.

The induction of fourth-generation LCA took place at Air Force Station, Sulur in the presence of the Chief of Air Staff (CAS) Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria. “The CAS Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria flew the #LCA Tejas fighter this morning with 45 Squadron at Air Force Station Sulur. He is on a visit to the Station for operationalisation of 18 Squadron,” the IAF said in a tweet.

With this, the No. 18 squadron of Indian Air Force has become the second IAF fleet to fly indigenously built Light Combat Aircraft Tejas FOC (Final Operational Clearance).

The FOC standard LCA Tejas, inducted into the No. 18 Squadron today, has been produced by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

“We are proud to deliver a much lethal aircraft than the IOC block. Apart from all the capabilities of IOC aircraft, the FOC variant additionally comes with Air- to-Air refueling capability, close combat gun, additional drop tanks, BVR missile capability, updated avionics and flight control software suite”, said R Madhavan, CMD, HAL.

The FOC variant will reduce the maintenance man hours and turn-around time resulting in enhanced support for IAF missions, HAL said in a statement.

Four more FOC-LCAs are in the advanced stages of production and testing and expected to join the Squadron soon. HAL commenced the training for both air crew as well as maintenance crew for FOC aircraft and the first batch of trained air warriors is already with the 18 Squadron.

Tejas is an indigenous fourth generation tailless compound delta-wing aircraft. The aircraft is equipped with a fly-by-wire flight control system, integrated digital avionics, multimode radar and its structure is made out of composite material.

It is the lightest and smallest in its group of fourth-generation supersonic combat aircraft.

IAF’s 18 Squadron was formed on 15 April, 1965 with the motto ‘Teevra aur Nirbhaya’  (Swift and Fearless). The squadron was flying MiG 27 aircraft before it got number plated on 15 April 2016. The squadron was resurrected on April 1 this year at Sulur.

The squadron actively participated in the 1971 war with Pakistan and was decorated with the highest gallantry award ‘Param Vir Chakra’ awarded to Flying Officer Nirmal Jit Singh Sekhon posthumously. It earned the sobriquet of ‘Defenders of Kashmir Valley’ by being the first to land and operate from Srinagar. The Squadron was presented with President’s Standard in November 2015.