Wing Commander Ashok Kumar Upadhyaya (17757) Adm/ATC was commissioned in the IAF on 21 Dec 84. He has held the appointments of Senior Air Traffic Control Officer of two major Air Force bases, Directorate of Air Staff Inspection appointed examiner, Command Photo Interpretation Officer and presently commanding a front line Signal Unit.
After assuming command of the Unit equipped with state of the art Master - T Radar in Oct 05, he understood the strategic importance and potential of the weapon system available, which needed to be exploited to the maximum. Non-availability of radar in adverse weather conditions was a major operational limitation, which needed to be overcome. He successfully led his team to transfer the radar picture of Signal Unit electronically to NACC Ops room at Udhampur thus saving the exchequer a sum of Rs. 4 Crore demanded by the OEM for the same task.
Air Force Exercise 'Gagan Shakti' in Sep 06 was an opportune launch pad for the officer to validate the real time exploitation of this radar in the newly assigned Air Defence (AD) role. The training requirements of radar operators were identified and innovative techniques implemented.
The SU is located on a ridge 8,100 ft high. The Unit remains snowbound and cut off for up to five months in a year. It is also on the fringes of insurgency-affected area. Thus, the terrain is inhospitable, the living conditions tough, the security scenario vulnerable and the accessibility in winter months highly restricted. Hence, sustaining the morale of over 300 personnel who live in such conditions is extremely challenging on the leadership. This, he achieved with aplomb. His leadership qualities were put to test on 11 Mar 07 when the Unit was hit by a blizzard. All sophisticated electronic equipment along with air warriors who were on duty at that time were trapped inside. The officer led his team from the front for immediate rescue and the Unit was brought to a state of operational readiness the very next day, a task otherwise unattainable, even in a week's time. For his distinguished service of high order, Hon'ble President is pleased to award 'Vishisht Seva Medal' to Wing Commander Ashok Kumar Upadhyaya.