Jai Shree Varte Veeram, meaning victory garlands the gallant, is a bye word to the soul and spirit of one of the most operational commands of the Indian Air Force, the South Western Air Command.
Originally established as No 1 Operational Group at Jodhpur on 21 Sep 1972, it was subsequently rechristened as the South Western Air Command on 23 Jul 1980. The operational area, carved out of the Western Air Command, included most of Rajasthan and the entire Gujarat. he crest of the South Western Air Command depicts the national emblem on the top as a pendant of a garland of flowers with "Dakshin Paschim Vayu Kaman" encrypted inside in a semi circle. The centre is adorned by a dagger with wings. At the base, under the inscription 'Bharatiya Vayu Sena', is a scroll with the command motto "Jai Shree Varte Veeram".
In a major expansion in the mid eighties, the units located at Pune and Mumbai were transferred from Central Air Command.
Goa area of Southern Air Command was also added to the jurisdiction of this Command. Thus, the entire south western area of the country came under the air defence umbrella of SWAC. Keeping in view the increasing operational importance of the command, it was decided by Air HQ to move the Command Headquarters from Jodhpur to Gandhinagar. The new HQ was inaugurated on 01 May 1998 by the then Chief Minister of Gujarat, Shri Keshubhai Patel. The grand ceremony held on the occasion included a fly past by fighters and helicopters, an aerobatics display by SU-30 and Surya Kiran aircraft and a free fall display by the Akash Ganga para-jumping team.
The old MLAs' Hostel in Sector - 9, Gandhinagar, where the SWAC HQ is situated, has been suitably renovated. With well equipped offices, properly maintained lawns and roads, and other facilities, it is a beautiful place to work in. The construction of new buildings and infrastructure work has started at Chiloda. In year or two HQ SWAC will shift to its new location near Gandhinagar.
The IAF has acquired 258 acres of land at Chiloda near Gandhinagar for this project. The Bhoomi Poojan and Plantation Ceremony was held on 29 Jan 08.
The acquired land is located close to village Chiloda and is approximately 35 KM from Ahmedabad and 7 KM from the present Command HQ complex in Sector - 9 Gandhinagar.
Air Mshl KD Singh PVSM AVSM ADC AOC-in-C SWAC, IAF & Mrs Neelam Singh President AFWWA (R) at Bhoomi Poojan and Plantation Ceremony at Chiloda on 29 Jan 08
Project management team consisting of Air force & MES officers & staff has been formed for close monitoring & smooth execution of the works services of OTM accommodation.
When fully developed, the campus would have the entire gamut of facilities required for the functioning of HQ SWAC. These include:-
Work services for the above facilities are in progress and efforts are on to complete the construction by Dec 2010.
South Western Air Command is dedicated to securing the inviolability of the Indian Skies and to ensure the integrity of airspace above the nation's land and sea territories within its area of responsibility. Since its inception, SWAC, one of the premier operational commands of the IAF, has ceaselessly operated in peace and war and has never let down its guard. Indeed, an Air arm can never afford to lessen its pace of operational activities and readiness, flying by day and night through all seasons. Avionics is developing at an ever quickening pace bringing into its fold a whole new breed of airmen with their astounding expertise, steely toughness and undaunted courage. Indeed South Western Air Command lives by its motto 'Jai Shree Varte Veeram'.
NAME OF AOsC (No. 1 OP GROUP)
Air Vice Mshl D Subia PVSM VrC
01 Nov 72
26 Jun 74
Air Mshl EJ Dhatigara PVSM KC
27 Jun 74
28 Feb 76
Air Mshl Randhir Singh PVSM AVSM VrC
01 Mar 76
13 Sep 76
Air Mshl Dilbagh Singh AVSM VM
14 Sep 76
28 Aug 78
Air Mshl JR Bhasin PVSM AVSM VM
29 Aug 78
22 Jul 80
NAME OF AOC-in-C
Air Mshl JR Bhasin AVSM VM
23 Jul 80
30 Jun 83
Air Mshl CV Gole AVSM VM ADC
01 Jul 83
31 Oct 84
Air Mshl S Raghavendran PVSM AVSM ADC
01 Nov 84
06 Jan 86
Air Mshl PP Singh PVSM MVC AVSM ADC
08 Jan 86
28 Feb 87
Air Mshl SK Mehra PVSM AVSM VM ADC
01 Mar 87
30 Jul 88
Air Mshl PK Dey PVSM AVSM ADC
01 Aug 88
31 Mar 92
Air Mshl BD Jayal PVSM AVSM VM & Bar ADC
01 Apr 92
30 Sep 93
Air Mshl SK Sareen PVSM VM
06 Oct 93
03 Jun 94
Air Mshl KC Cariappa PVSM VM ADC
06 Jun 94
31 Jan 96
Air Mshl SR Despande PVSM AVSM VM ADC
01 Feb 96
30 Nov 97
Air Mshl S Krishnaswamy PVSM AVSM VM & Bar ADC
01 Dec 97
31 Oct 99
Air Mshl VK Bhatia PVSM AVSM Vr C & Bar ADC
01 Nov 99
31 Jul 01
Air Mshl M McMahon PVSM AVSM VM ADC
01 Aug 01
31 Jan 03
Air Mshl SP Tyagi PVSM AVSM VM ADC
01 Feb 03
14 Nov 03
Air Mshl AR Ghandhi PVSM AVSM Vr C
17 Nov 03
30 Jun 04
Air Mshl SK Jain PVSM AVSM VM ADC
12 Jul 04
28 Feb 06
Air Mshl PK Mehra PVSM AVSM VM ADC
01 Feb 06
30 Apr 07
Air Mshl KD Singh PVSM AVSM ADC
01 May 07
30 Sep 09
SHOOTING DOWN PAKISTANI RECONNAISSANCE AIRCRAFT
Among the remarkable achievements of SWAC in recent times is the shooting down of a Pakistani Atlantique anti-submarine cum anti-ship warfare and maritime reconnaissance aircraft on 10 Aug 1999. The aircraft had intruded into the Indian air space. It was challenged by IAF's MiG 21 aircraft. The Pakistani aircraft turned hostile and was shot down.
In view of the terrorist attack on the parliament on 13 Dec 01, all radars were immediately moved to their operational locations along the border and fighter aircraft were deployed at forward bases eg Naliya, Uttarlai, Jamnagar, Bhuj and Jaisalmer so as to ensure security of the region. This deployment known as Operation Parakram was the longest ever deployment during which many lessons were learnt with regard to endurance of men and machines.
OP VAYU SAHAYATA
Besides its operational commitments, SWAC has also contributed its might towards alleviation of suffering during times of natural calamities. With one stroke of nature's wrath Bhuj was devastated by a severe earthquake on the morning of 26 Jan 2001. Communication lines had snapped, cutting off the area from the rest of the world. Air Force Station Bhuj was also devastated. The Air Traffic Control building was destroyed. Yet, as an organisation, the IAF rose to the occasion and created an air bridge.
Relief measures were launched by SWAC within a few hours of the disaster. A team of medical and other personnel from HQ SWAC carrying medicines and relief material, led by the AOC-in-C, reached Bhuj at 1600 h on the same day. Disregarding their personal tragedies, the brave personnel of AF Station Bhuj worked round-the-clock to keep the base operational. Soon, Bhuj became the busiest airport in the country, with aircraft landing or taking off every five minutes. Despite the lack of basic infrastructure, the biggest ever rescue and relief operation 'Op Vayu Sahayata' was accomplished by HQ SWAC and its units.
GUJARAT FLOOD RELIEF
During 2005, in the wake of incessant and torrential rains, most parts of central and southern Gujarat had witnessed unprecedented flooding. As in the past, the Indian Air Force came forward to aid civil authorities. A special flood relief cell was immediately made operational under the control of Senior Air Staff Officer at South Western Air Command Headquarters at Gandhinagar. The cell coordinated and carried out all flood relief operations including rescue missions in consultation with the civil authorities. The highlights of the flood relief operation are enumerated below. 1.6 tons of food was airdropped for 400-odd passengers of the Indore- Gandhinagar Shanti Express, stranded near Dakor. On 2nd July a rescue sortie was launched when the State Emergency Ops Centre requested for the rescue of two British Nationals and two Media persons from the highway near Nadiad. A Mi 8 helicopter was launched for the mission and they sighted a large number of personnel. After identifying the personnel, the two British personnel and six others which included the TV crew of Aaj Tak were winched up and rescued. Information was received about some personnel marooned on trucks on a road that was washed away by the floods. The vigilant pilot noticed three trucks marooned in water. There were two / three survivors on each truck with the nearest land mass more than a kilometer away. On a closer survey it was revealed that the truck was gradually sinking and the personnel were in great danger of being drowned. The pilot decided to rescue the personnel by winching them up from each of the three trucks. Despite the odds of very few reference points to establish steady and accurate hover required for winching, the air crew of the helicopter managed to rescue all the nine personnel. Matching the enormity of the flood situation and taking advantage of better weather conditions, the IAF increased its air efforts and mounted altogether 70-odd sorties on 03 and 04 Jul 05, 44 of them ex- Ahmedabad and almost 26 from Baroda. Six Mi-8 and Mi-17 helicopters based at Ahmedabad carried out a supply drop of 70 tons. Similarly, five helicopters located at Baroda air dropped nearly 44 tons of food and water bottles. To the marooned people of Gujarat facing the fury of torrential rains and worsening flood situation, these relief operations by IAF came as great succor and timely help.
SUBROTO MUKERJEE AND JRD TATA MEMORIAL EVENT
An awareness campaign was conducted in Mumbai from 14th to 17th Oct 2004 followed by a recruitment rally from 18th Oct to 22nd Oct to recruit airmen from amongst the youth of Maharashtra. This Air Awareness Campaign was conducted jointly with Air India with the support of the Maharashtra State Government. This event is titled as the "Subroto Mukerjee and JRD Tata Memorial Event" since it commemorated two Indian Aviation pioneers, one who was the first Indian Chief of the Air Staff of the Indian Air Force 50 years ago and the other who made the first Indian civil flight from Karachi to Mumbai 70 years ago.