Sukhoi pilot awarded gallantry medal for phenomenal courage

Discussion in 'Indian Air Force' started by pankaj nema, Aug 18, 2013.

  1. pankaj nema

    pankaj nema Senior Member Senior Member

    Oct 1, 2009
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    Sukhoi pilot awarded gallantry medal for phenomenal courage during ‘Iron Fist’ in Pokhran

    Sukhoi pilot Wing Commander Vikram Singh Chauhan will be conferred Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry) for his act of exceptional courage and presence of mind in the face of potentially catastrophic and life threatening situation during a recent exercise of the Indian Air Force in Pokhran range.

    Chauhan hailing from Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, is currently posted at the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, Tamil Nadu. He is the son of B S Chauhan, a retired IAS officer.

    Only six air force officers have been conferred the Vayu Sena Medal this year.

    Chauhan been given this award for saving a large number of people present at the Pokhran range to witness the full dress rehearsal of IAF’s ‘Iron Fist’ war games on February 19, 2013.

    “Wing Commander Chauhan, without caring for his life, changed the direction of the Su-30 MKI that had turned into a fireball after the explosion of a bomb at the right wing. If he had not turned the direction, then the plane would have fallen on the large number of people witnessing the full dress rehearsal of the ‘Iron Fist’ that would have caused loss to human lives,” IAF spokesperson Wing Commander G Galbe said.

    During the rehearsal, Wing Commander Chauhan was tasked to fly an air-to-ground strike mission over Pokhran range. He was authorised to fly as a weapon system operator (WSO) onboard an Su-30 MKI aircraft laden with 18×100 kg bombs. The objective of the mission was to showcase the immense fire power and accuracy in weapon delivery of the Su-30 MKI. The mission was undertaken during the night time.

    Chauhan assisted his pilot in carrying out a flawless strike and made good the ‘Time on Target’ to employ his formidable weapon load subsequent to the trigger press by the most dramatic chain of event witnessed in recent aviation history.

    The release of bombs from the aircraft was almost instantaneously accompanied with a loud explosion in the vicinity of the right wing. This was followed by the aircraft being engulfed in a large ball of fire and breaking up into several parts in mid-air. The explosion on the right wing caused it to be ripped off at the root and the aircraft viciously spiralled downwards in an uncontrolled trajectory with a very high rate of descent.

    Chauhan was hit in the face by shards of the canopy that shattered with the first explosion. This caused him to sustain several lacerations and wind blast injuries. Despite negligible vision in the darkness of the desert sky which was further obscured by facial bleeding caused by his injuries, he made a superhuman effort to push himself against the burning railing of the cockpit, accessed the ejection handle and successfully operated it. This resulted in both the pilots ejecting safely.

    Eyewitness accounts and video footage of the incident indicate the undeniable presence of a large explosion near the wing. In the face of such an unprecedented situation wherein the aircraft bursts into flames with no warning of impending failure, Wing Commander Vikram Singh Chauhan displayed exceptional courage, situational awareness, uncommon reflexes, in extricating himself and crew member from a distressed aircraft.


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