Preparations are in full swing at the air base to formally welcome the No. 45 Squadron of Flying Daggers at their new home base

Sulur: Desi fighter Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas will officially have a new address from July 1 – Air Force Station (AFS) Sulur. The preparations are in full swing at the air base here to formally welcome the No 45 Squadron Flying Daggers at their new home.

All the nine Tejas fighters inducted into the Flying Daggers have arrived at the AFS Sulur from their raising ground in Bangalore. The Indian Air Force (IAF) is conducting a very low-key event here to welcome the home-grown fighter co-developed by Aeronautical Development Agency and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.

The squadron was raised in Bangaloreon July 1, 2016, with two fighters and in two years it has grown to nine, a number the IAF would love to see in the double digits. The IAF top brass seems to want to focus on the goals ahead and get more fighters delivered by HAL to strengthen the squadron.

Tejas finally moving to Sulur will see the role of Southern Air Command (SAC) headquartered in Thiruvananthapuram increasing by many fold. Speaking to Onmanorama, Air Commodore A K Puntambekar, Air Officer Commanding (AOC), AFS Sulur, said Flying Daggers will be the first fighter squadron under SAC operating from 11 degree North Latitude.

“This is the second home-grown fighter squadron after the Marut (HF-24) and we are all excited about it. Tejas will set the pace for future aviation programmes to take wing and AFS Sulur will play a key role. Bangalore air space will also get de-congested now with the squadron moving here,” said Puntambekar.

When asked about the operation edge SAC would have with the Sukhois (Su-30MKI) too set to begin operations from Thanjavur next year, the senior IAF official said: "You cannot say what is in store for you tomorrow. But more fighter squadrons under SAC means, we are building more muscles."

Group Captain Samrath Dhankhar (Danny), who took over as the commanding officer of Flying Daggers recently, said that his boys were happy that two years of hard work raising the squadron in Bangalore has finally reached the intended results.

“We are happy that we have nine fighters with us. We would have loved to see more numbers. The journey has been inspiring and we have been well received by other squadrons already here at AFS Sulur,” said Dhankhar.

He said the lessons from the recently concluded Gagan Shakti Exercise have boosted the confidence of his boys.

“Definitely Gagan Shakti Exercise was a turning point for the squadron. The platform did exactly and more of what it was expected to do as a contemporary fighter. We are beginning a new era from July 1 from AFS Sulur, though we are not celebrating yet as we want more fighters to fly out of the HAL hangars and join the squadron at the earliest,” he added.

On July 1, Air Officer Commander-In-Chief Air, SAC, Air Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria will lead the air warriors at AFS Sulur for the official ceremony.

Air Marshal Bhadauria has been associated with the Tejas program from its inception days and is said to have played a silent, but significant role, in squadron’s formation leading to the team moving to AFS Sulur.