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47 Squadron

No. 47 Squadron was raised on 18 December 1959 at Halwara with Sqn Ldr Denis Anthony La Fontaine (later CAS) as squadron commander. Fg Offr S Subbaramu (later Air Vice Marshal) had ferried in the squadron's first Toofani the day before. Despite a shortage of personnel, equipment, working tools and other teething troubles, the infant squadron had the honor participating in the Republic Day flypast on 26 January 1960. And shortly thereafter in March 1960, the squadron took part in the 27th anniversary display at Bombay.

On 16 April 1962, Command of the Squadron was taken over by Sqn Ldr Charles Fernandez at Halwara. At the outbreak of the 1962, conflict, the Squadron moved to Kalaikunda on 23 Oct 1962. When 17 Wing was raised in Gorakhpur in 1963, A detachment of four Ouragons were sent to Gorakhpur on 21 June 1963. Not soon afterwards Sqn Ldr Fernandez again moved the whole Squadron, this time to Baghdogra's 20 Wing, where they arrived on 3 August 1963. The Squadron took over the duties of No.4 Squadron which had moved to Hashimara by then.

The following January, the squadron was tasked to perform the Tri Colour loop over Rajpath during the Republic Day parade. A four-aircraft detachment left for Palam in December 1963 and after a few practices, performed a loop on Republic day 1964, which stole the hearts of the millions of watchers. The Tri Colour Loop was followed by a Prince of Wales peel off . All the aerobatics were executed by the CO, along with Flt Lt S Subburamu and Fg Offr NL Gupta.

In April 1964, the squadron achieved another feather in its cap when at Jamnagar, Flt Lt S Subbaramu got the highest individual shoot and aggregates in F/G. Such was the training level that the entire squadron average was adjudged one of the best of all the participating units. The squadron re-deployed to the new base at Hashimara in September of 1964. Less then a year later the squadron would fire its guns in anger. Command of the Squadron was taken over by Sqn Ldr P Venugopal (later Air Marshal) .

On 02 September 1965, five Toofanis were detached for the air defence of Tezpur. A further four aircraft were detached for the defence of Gwahati. The squadron was led in to these operation by Sqn Ldr P Venugopal and was appointed as SASO HQ (TC). A lone Toofani was left behind because of certain snags. The remaining crew of the squadron stayed back at Halwara for army co-operation in the Western sector.

On 23 March 1968, after a long stint in the East, the Black Archers exchanged the aging Toofanis for new MiG-21FLs at Chandigarh. In February 1969, the squadron was tasked with the air defence of Delhi and was relocated to Hindon. The squadron stayed here for the next two years.

The squadron took a very active part in the 1971 war against Pakistan. Although it's primary mission was air defence the flew a number of counter air missions over Badin airfield. The Squadron was led in these operations by Wg Cdr HS Gill VM. During the war the squadron stationed detachments at Jamnagar, Halwara, Palam and Hindon. The Jamnagar detachment was most active and has to its credit a confirmed Starfighter (F-104) kill and a further probable. On 12 December 1971, Sqn Ldr BB Soni shot down an F-104 as it attempted to attack Jamnagar.

Squadron CO, Wg Cdr HS Gill was lost to ground fire while leading a counter air mission against Badin on 13 December 1971. Badin, however, remained closed as a result of the squadron's efforts. The squadron earned a total of two VrC, one each to Wg Cdr Gill and Flt Lt Soni , 1 VSM and four Mentioned-in-Despatches.

In November 1973, the Black Archers moved to Halwara, its formation base. For next five years, the squadron stayed there. It's proximity of Sidhwan Khas range gave the opportunity to the pilots to hone their skills and achieve a high level of proficiency in air-to-ground work.

In January 1978, the squadron moved on to its new location at Chabua where it was to remain for the next seven years. During the same year the squadron won the annual Eastern Air Command's (EAC) gunnery trophy. In 1979 the squadron won the Instrument Flying Trophy.

In November 1980, Wg Cdr MS Vasudeva VM intercepted, identified and photographed an intruding Chinese IL-18. In May 1985 the Black Archers relocated to Hashimara. Within no time the unit was at peak performance despite the move and place another feather in the cap by once again winning the 1985-86 EAC Gunnery Meet.

In 1986, when the government finally cleared the procurement of MiG-29s, the honour of being the first unit was bestowed upon the Black Archers. In October 1986 the squadron was stood-down while its pilots were sent to USSR for conversion training.

The squadron re-formed on MiG-29s at Pune in May 1987. While at Pune, the squadron underwent exhaustive training to prepare a viable pilot fleet for the new aircraft. Being the first to operate the MiG-29, the task of reviewing all the tactics and develop them for the sound operational effectiveness fell on the Black Archers. In February 1996, the squadron received new aircraft which comprised of four fighters and a trainer.

In March 1997, the squadron moved to Adampur under the command of Wg Cdr KP Nair. This move was completed in record time and the squadron was operational within 7 days of its coming to Adampur. During Kargil conflict the squadron went on full alert and deployed detachments as far as Jamnagar.

On 19 July 2002, The Squadron Museum was inagurated by the Commodore Commandant, Air Marshal Narayanan Menon. The Museum houses various photographs, details, mementoes etc under one roof to motivate visitors about the Squadrons contribution over the years.


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