3 minute readIAF pilots to receive gallantry awards

Flight Lieutenant Manish Arora, Shaurya Chakra, Indian Air Force.

Safe recovery of a fighter jet despite having sustained critical injuries on the face after a canopy burst while cruising at near supersonic speed at an altitude of 10.5 kilometers, has earned Flight Lieutenant Manish Arora, a Shaurya Chakra, for his act of conspicuous courage, writes Indian Air Force (IAF) Public Relations Officer, Wing Commander TK Singha. The incident happened on February 4, 2010 in a fighter base in the eastern sector.

According to Singha, Flight Lieutenant Arora bore excruciating pain in the right ear even as his mask was flooded with blood. Wind blast severely restricted his mobility and frontal cockpit visibility affected by blood stains made his recovery difficult. Despite feeling faint and weak, Flight Lieutenant Arora displayed grit, fortitude and professionalism and landed the aircraft flawlessly under extremely challenging conditions.

For yet another safe recovery of a fighter jet having also suffered a canopy burst, Squadron Leader Vikas Bhushan has been awarded the Vayu Sena Medal (VM) (Gallantry). The incident happened on March 8, 2010 in the western sector. Canopy burst is amongst the gravest emergencies encountered in any fighter aircraft.

While tackling the emergency, Squadron Leader Bhushan suffered extreme pain in the ears due to the rapid decompression on canopy burst. By taking timely and correct actions, in spite of the physical injury and discomfort, Squadron Leader Bhushan displayed exceptional professionalism in ensuring the safe recovery of his aircraft. This could otherwise have resulted in the loss of an extremely vital and expensive national asset.

Two other VM (G) have been awarded to Wing Commander Sushil Chaturvedi and Wing Commander Manjit Singh Sidhu, both helicopter pilots.

Wing Commander Sushil Chaturvedi, Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry), Indian Air Force.

On May 8, 2010, Wing Commander Chaturvedi saved the life of a Jammu and Kashmir policeman, who was evacuated out of the deep jungles of Lar in the Mahore-Gulabgarh area at 9,500 ft density altitude. Considering the degree of difficulty of landing at an unprepared area in dusk period and evacuating from an inhospitable terrain infected with anti-national elements, Wing Commander Chaturvedi displayed exceptional courage and professional acumen in the face of challenging odds to save valuable lives.

Ahead of the IAF’s fire power display at Pokharan on February 27, 2010, Wing Commander Sidhu was a formation member of the IAF’s helicopter display team – Sarang, practicing their aerial routine. Towards the end of their routine, Wing Commander Sidhu encountered loss of effectiveness of collective, the control that offers power to the helicopter to remain airborne. The emergency is potentially catastrophic and the recovery actions have not been specified even by the manufacturer. With exceptional flying skill, he controlled the helicopter with help of rudder touched down in a flat area in an otherwise undulating terrain with minimum damage to the helicopter.

59 other IAF personnel will also be honored for distinguished service and devotion to duty, including six Air Marshals, who will receive the Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM) for distinguished service of an exceptional order and 12 other officers including two Air Marshals, five Air Vice Marshals and five Air Commodores, who will receive the Ati Vishisht Seva Medal (AVSM) for distinguished service of a very high order.

The Vayu Sena Medal (VM) for devotion to duty have been awarded to 14 officers whereas the Vishisht Seva Medal (VSM) recipients include 25 officers and two Personnel Below Officer Rank for distinguished service of a high order.

The PVSM recipients include Air Marshal Sumit Mukerjee, AOC-in-C, Southern Air Command, Air Marshal Paramjit Singh Bhangu, former AOC-in-C, South Western Air Command who retired on December 31, 2010, Air Marshal Gurdip Singh Kochar, AOC-in-C, Central Air Command, Air Marshal Kishan Kumar Nohwar, AOC-in-C, Eastern Air Command, Air Marshal Nirdosh Vatsayan Tyagi, Deputy Chief of Air Staff and Air Marshal Puthiyaveettil Madhusoodanan, former Director General Medical Services (Air).

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