After the ‘Golden Arrows’ 17 Squadron was resurrected at the Ambala Air Force Station on Tuesday, Indian Air Force (IAF) Chief BS Dhanoa spoke to the media. He recalled his tenure as the Commodore Commandant of the 17 Squadron when it was number plated in 2011. He mentioned that it was flying the MiG-21 aircraft at that time. Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa himself flew the MF variant of the MiG-21 aircraft.
He noted the fact that it had been number plated for a very long time. He added that the operational record of the Squadron influenced the previous IAF Chief to nominate the first Squadron of the Rafale aircraft to be 17 Squadron and the second one to be No. 101 Squadron. This was based on the sequence in which they were number plated. He expressed delight that they had migrated from the MiG-21 to the Rafale aircraft.
“As I said in the speech also, this is one Squadron that has taken part in all operations since 1951, including Goa and everywhere else. It has got a very good combat record and a good history. I know the commanding officer from the time he did his MiG conversion under me. He himself is a decorated person and a Shaurya Chakra awardee. And, of course, we were also well decorated in Kargil. It gives me a lot of satisfaction that I could resurrect the Squadron during my tenure and in uniform and it is coming with a very capable aircraft,” he concluded.
The 17 Squadron was formed in 1951 and it initially flew de Havilland Vampire F Mk 52 fighters. It was commanded by Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa during the Kargil War in 1999. Operated from the Bhatinda Air Base, it was disbanded in 2016 after IAF commenced the gradual phasing out of the MiG-21 jets. The resurrected Squadron will be the first unit to fly the Rafale aircraft. While Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa was expected to receive the first Indian Rafale aircraft from France on September 19-20, there has been a change in plan. Now, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will travel to France along with Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar and other senior government officials on October 8 to do the honours.