1965 War

On 01 Sep 1965, Marshal of the Indian Air Force (MIAF) Arjan Singh , then the Chief of the Air Staff, ordered air strikes against the Pakistan Forces. Just before sunset of 01 Sep 1965, after meeting the Defence Minister of India, 26 fighter bombers consisting of 12 Vampire aircraft of No. 45 and 220 Squadrons and 14 Mystere aircraft of No. 3 and 31 Sqn took off from Pathankot for the Chhamb Sector. The mission marked the start of the air action against belligerence by Pakistan. Just before 1800hrs, the first IAF aircraft struck the Pakistani Patton Tanks. On this day, IAF accounted for 10 tanks, 02 Anti-Aircraft guns and 30-40 vehicles of the Pakistani Army.

OPS 1962

In 1962, a war broke out between India and China. While the disputed Himalayan border was the main pretext of the war, other underlying issues also played a vital role. There had been a series of armed border skirmishes after the 1959 Tibetan uprising, when India granted asylum to the Dalai Lama. This, coupled with the inability of the nations to reach a political accommodation over the disputed territory along the 3225 km long Himalayan border gave the Chinese an excuse to launch an offensive into Indian territory.
In October of 1962, Scorpios were operating Dassault Ouragan (Toofani) from Tezpur, under the command of the third Commanding Officer, Sqn Ldr E D’ Souza. Towards the beginning of the month, the Squadron heightened its level of preparedness and observed a couple of maintenance days to increase the serviceability state of the aircraft. With hostilities with China looming over the horizon, the Scorpios kept their combat skills honed by squeezing in practice dives and tactical sorties whenever possible. As the conflict looked imminent, Scorpios were on standby, with two aircraft always armed and ready to launch at the drop of a hat. Back in 1962, hill flying was severely restricted as neither the Govt nor the IAF expected to fight an enemy in the mountains. No SOPs existed for operations at high altitude pertaining with heights to fly, dive angles, weapon release heights, escape routes, weather impact in afternoon operations, range / endurance versus weapon loads, search / rescue, helicopter support etc.
On 20 October 1962, the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) launched two attacks, 1000 kilometers apart. In the Western theatre, the PLA sought to expel Indian forces from the Chip Chap valley in Aksai Chin while in the Eastern front, the PLA sought to capture both banks of the Namka-Chu river. The United States and the United Kingdom supported India's response while the Soviet Union was preoccupied with the Cuban Missile Crisis and did not have spare reserves to offer similar support it had provided in the previous years.
By the evening of 20 Oct 1962, the news about the Battle of Namka-chu river became news. The Squadron prepared itself adequately for conduct of CSFO missions in the support of the Army despite the difficulties of operations at high altitude. The Scorpios were ready for war, but were only called upon to undertake a few recce missions. Airpower was not used to its full potential in the conflict and was restricted only towards Intelligence gathering. The recce missions also became rare, as very soon the orders to halt such missions were issued by the Air Force. It must be borne in mind that such orders in those days of limited communication took a fair amount of time to reach field units. Even when the fighters were withdrawn from action the helicopter and transport fleet of the Indian Air Force remained involved in the action. They were undertaking round the clock supply drop and casualty evacuation missions. Due to acute shortage of helicopter pilots during the time, six pilots from the Squadron were attached to various helicopter units to undertake second pilot duties. The unit thus remained involved even when the role of IAF was limited. Cease fire was declared by China on 20 Nov 1962 and there was a gradual de-escalation of troops from the disputed areas. The Scorpios also started their return journey back to their parent location on 23 Nov 1962.