A little known story about Grp Capt Harkirat Singh, who will command first Rafale squadron

Group Captain Harkirat Singh was awarded Shaurya Chakra in 2009 for his brave act that helped save his MiG 21 Bison that...

New Delhi: With France handing over first of the Rafale fighter jets to India at Merignac Tuesday, photographs of a beaming Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and senior Indian Air Force officers with the aircraft in the background were splashed all over social media.

Standing among the officers was Group Captain Harkirat Singh, the designated Commanding Officer of the newly-resurrected 17th Squadron ‘Golden Arrows’, which will get the first set of four Rafale fighters by the end of May 2020.

Group Captain Singh, earlier a MiG 21 pilot, is known for his “exceptional courage” and was awarded the Shaurya Chakra in 2009 for his brave act that helped save the aircraft as well as his own life...

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...Singh’s actions that saved his life and also his aircraft

Singh is said to have calmly assessed the situation and reacted in a controlled manner.

He immediately reduced the angle of attack, thereby preventing the aircraft from entering the stalling regime.

Group Captain Singh took recovery actions of relighting the engine without delay. While doing so, he continued with the difficult task of piloting the aircraft in dark night conditions.

“After a successful relight and with the cockpit lighting restored, he utilised his on board navigation systems along with the assistance from Ground Control Intercept controller to position on final approach followed by a Surveillance Radar Approach to land,” the citation read.

He was now faced with the next demanding task of carrying out an overweight landing in dark night conditions, which calls for high degree of skill levels.

“His exemplary piloting skills with composed mental state under extreme adverse conditions were instrumental in successfully recovering the aircraft. This act of saving the aircraft was undertaken by him in total disregard to his own safety,” the citation read.

It added: “Any wrong input or a delayed action by the pilot would have resulted in a catastrophic accident. After landing, he cleared off the runway and switched off, thereby enabling the recovery of other aircraft.”

The citation said his prompt and correct actions prevented a Category-I accident and saved a valuable aircraft.

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