The Crest swooping down towards its prey. The motto 'Navijitya Nivartanam' has been proved by the squadron from time to time both in war and in peace.
No.24 Squadron is a premier front-line fighter squadron of the Indian Air Force. The Sqn is popularly known, have been a cornerstone in the Air Operations of the country since the Squadron's formation in 1962. For thirty five years, this fighting outfit has played a very important role in providing teeth to the Indian Air Force's war potential. Over the years, the Sqn has maintained and flown all contemporary aircraft to fulfill the roles, the Sqn was assigned to undertake from time to time.
Formation of the Squadron
The Sqn was formed on 16 Feb 1962 at Air Force Station Chabua, in Assam. It was equipped with Vampire fighter bomber aircraft, which the IAF had been flying since 1948. At that stage, war clouds were already on the horizon and the need of the hour was to have the Sqn in fighting shape as soon as possible. It didn't take long to convert on to their new aircraft and lived up to the trust placed on them by contributing positively to IAF's air action in the Eastern Sector in the 1962 war with China.
THE WARS FOUGHT
Chinese Operations 1962 - Soon after its formation, the Sqn became operational and undertook Combat Air Patrol duties during the 1962 Chinese aggression. Besides the primary task of guarding the Indian skies, it was tasked with other assignments as well. The most notable of these was the reconnaissance of some of the narrowest and most treacherous valleys of the East, to facilitate supply dropping missions by the Dakotas. These reconnaissance missions were flown in the worst of weather conditions and without help of any radio-navigational aids. These feats, when viewed in light the odds placed against them, symbolize the spirit of "NO RETURN WITHOUT CONQUEST" which is the motto of the Sqn. The Sqn also earned laurels in counter- insurgency operations in the North Eastern Frontier Area (NEFA).
Indo-Pak War 1965 - In this Indo Pak Conflict, the Sqn saw considerable action. While operating from Kalaikunda in West Bengal, the Sqn was tasked to provide close air support to the Indian Army for operations in the Eastern sector. After the initial few days of the war, on 06 Sep 1965, the Sqn moved to Barrackpur from where it took part in day light strikes over vital targets. The Sqn pilots undertook most of the strikes under hostile weather conditions. Towards the later part of the war, the Hawks were deployed on Combat Air Patrol duties in Gorakhpur region. In the beginning of 1966, when the IAF embarked upon its modernization program, 24 Sqn was chosen to be equipped with the legendary Gnat aircraft which had already earned the nickname of "Sabre Slayer" in the 1965 war. By the end of the year, the Sqn achieved total operational capability on the new war machines. Having faced 'action' in the not so distant past, the 'flyboys' and the 'spanners' set about sharpening their claws and honing their skills in order to use new aircraft as an effective weapon platform in war. Later in 1971, when the country went to war, they were to fall back upon this training and hard work to use the aircraft as an instrument of the nation's Air Power.
Indo-Pak Operations 1971 - The second day of December in 1971 dawned over the lush green forest overlooking the airbase at Tezpur like any other winter morning in Eastern India. But for the Hawks who had received a flash message for a move to Kumbhigram Sector, nothing was to be routine for quite some time to come. The D-Day had arrived - the men and their flying machines were in top shape to meet the threat head-on. The missions undertaken by the Sqn in close support of the advancing ground troops, involved going in, right into the thick of the battle to take out enemy gun position and fortifications in the face of heavy attack and gun fire from combat ready enemy troops. Within the first six days of war the Sqn had successfully destroyed enemy gun positions and vital target systems in Brahmbaria, Maulavi bazaar, Munch bazaar, Sylhet, Kalaura, Narainganj, Dolanganj and Mainwati. As always, the Sqn left behind a saga of successes by performing daunting tasks with equal mastery in both air defence and ground attack roles. In this War, for the first time in the history of IAF operations, helicopters were employed to air lift troops. The Sqn is proud to have the distinction of being the very first squadron of the Indian Air Force to provide top cover to helicopter engaged in airlift operations close to the Forward Edge of Battle Area.
War Machines - Over the Years
The Sqn had been right in the fore-front, keeping abreast of the technological advances that Indian aviation has seen over the years. After four years of flying the De Havilland Vampires, the Sqn converted on to the lethal 'Gnat' aircraft in 1966. In the inter-squadron Weapons, the Sqn had flown away with every single bombing and gunnery trophy. The Sqn's motto 'NO RETURN WITHOUT CONQUEST' has indeed been the war cry with which it has under taken the tasks that have come their way. The tradition of winning is exemplified by the consistent achievements of the Sqn's fighter pilots bagging a host of trophies in inter-squadron Weapon Competitions in successive years.