Indian Air Force (IAF) chief BS Dhanoa on Tuesday resurrected the 17 Squadron, nicknamed Golden Arrows, which will be the first unit to operate French-origin Rafale fighter aircraft.
The IAF chief also inaugurated Golden Arrows Squadron museum here.
He presented a memento to Group Captain Harkirat Singh SC to commemorate the occasion. The ceremony was attended by various dignitaries from the Indian Air Force and Indian Army.
"It gives me immense pleasure to handover squadron insignia to Commanding Officer designate group Captain Harkirat Singh," Dhanoa said.
"The 'Golden Arrows' have been an epitome of professional excellence and dedication. The association of 17 Squadron with Ambala has been from its very inception when it was formed here in 1951. It has come back to Ambala," he added.
Later while talking to media, Dhanoa said that "it gives me a lot of pleasure that from MiG-21 we have jumped to the Rafale".
"Like I said in the speech, this is one Squadron that has taken part in all operations since 1951... It has got a very good combat record. It has got a very good history. So, it gives me a lot of pleasure and satisfaction that during my tenure I could resurrect this Squadron," he said.
17 Squadron was formed at Ambala on October 1, 1951 under the command of Flight Lieutenant DL Springett and was then equipped with Harvard-II B aircraft. By November 1955, Squadron converted fully to De Havilland Vampire and by 1957, Hawker Hunter aircraft were flown by the 'Golden Arrows'. The Squadron converted to the Mig-21 M in 1975.
R Nambiar, Commanding-in-Chief, Western Air Command said, "The Golden Arrows have been a part of Western Air Command ever since its inception. It was formed in 1951 on October 1... It is now going to be equipped with our latest modern aircraft, the Rafale... I do believe it (Rafale) will revolutionise air power in this part of the world."
Golden Arrows actively participated in Goa Liberation Campaign in December 1961 and in 1965 operations as a reserve force. Under the command of Wing Commander N Chatrath, 17 Squadron took part in the Indo-Pak war of 1971 and flew close air support, counter air and fighter recce missions, getting numerous gallantry awards.In November 1988, the Squadron was presented 'Colours' by then President R Venkataraman. Under the command of then Wing Commander BS Dhanoa, Golden Arrows participated actively in Operation 'Safed Sagar' in 1999.In the near future, 17 Squadron will be the first Squadron to be equipped with Rafale aircraft.
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