Awardee List for the 51 Sqn


A total of 7 Awards are listed.
Vir Chakra : 1 | Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry) : 3 | Mention in Despatches : 3 |
Vir Chakra
Wg Cdr Varthaman Abhinandan 27981 F(P)Unit : No.51 Squadron  Award Date 27 Feb 19 Announced 15 Aug 19
Details :

Wing Commander Varthaman Abhinandan (27981) Flying (Pilot) is on the posted strength of a MiG-21 Bison squadron with effect from 19 May 2018.

On 27 Feb 2019, Wing Commander Varthaman Abhinandan was on Operational Readiness Platform duty at Air Force Station Srinagar. At 0955h, a large force of Pakistan Air Force fighter aircraft (ac), consisting of advanced fourth generation F-16 and JF-17, were detected heading towards the LoC. The enemy ac were armed with beyond visual range (BVR) air to air missiles and advanced high calibre air to ground stand-off weapons. The enemy ac were under seamless airborne radar cover and control. At about 1000h, Wing Commander Varthaman Abhinandan was scrambled to intercept this package. Despite the enemy’s immense numerical and technological superiority, he proceeded to courageously engage the enemy ac package with utter disregard to his personal safety. On the intercept leg, he was provided with updates on likely air threats flying at very high altitudes. Displaying exceptional air combat acumen and knowledge of the enemy’s tactics, Wing Commander Varthaman Abhinandan scanned the low altitude airspace with his airborne intercept radar and picked up an enemy aircraft that was flying low to ambush the Indian fighter interceptor ac.

Wing Commander Varthaman Abhinandan alerted the other formation pilots towards this surprise threat. He then consolidated the riposte, but gathering his wingman in an offensive formation against the hostile Pakistani ac now dropping weapons on Indian Army positions. This audacious and aggressive maneouver forced the enemy ac into tactical chaos. All the enemy ac thereafter turned back including the rear echelon ac who were yet to launch their air to ground weapons.

Wing Commander Varthaman Abhinandan then pursued a retreating enemy fighter bomber aircraft, and in the ensuing aerial combat, shot down an F-16 ac with his on-board missile. However, in the melee, one of the enemy aircraft fired multiple advanced BVR missiles, one of which hit his aircraft forcing him to eject in enemy territory.

Despite being captured by the enemy, he continued to display exceptional resolve in dealing with the adversary in a stoic, brave and dignified manner till he was repatriated on 01 March 2019. His actions raised the morale of the armed forces in general and the IAF in particular.

Wing Commander Varthaman Abhinandan showed conspicuous courage, demonstrated gallantry in the face of the enemy while disregarding personal safety and displayed exceptional sense of duty.

Reference: Gazette of India , 15th August 2019 - No.115 - Pres/2019 

Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry)
Sqn Ldr Gurcharan Singh Bedi 17448 F(P)Unit : No.51 Squadron  Award Date Announced 15 Aug 99
Details :

Squadron Leader Gurucharan Singh Bedi (17448-R) Flying (Pilot) is posted to a Fighter Squadron since 14 Dec 98.

He has since then been working as the senior Flight Commander. When the adopt Precautionary Measures was sounded for the 'Operation Safed Sagar', the Squadron had just returned from a prolonged detachment. The commitment of 'Operation Safed Sagar' required a very high degree of operational preparedness, which involved operations for base as well as Awantipur. By involving himself thoroughly with the maintenance staff, he ensured an extremely high serviceability of aircraft such that not even a single mission was declined for the want of an aircraft. In 'Operation Safed Sagar' he flew a total of 25 missions over the inhospitable terrain in the face of enemy. Never before had the Squadron undertaken a task of this magnitude over such a terrain and altitudes. He involved himself completely in bringing up the training status of the entire Squadron to meet the challenge and achieved it in the shortest possible time. Under his dynamic leadership, the Squadron performed extremely well in all the missions allotted. He contributed very effectively in all the discussions at various forums towards evolving operational tactics. His knowledge on that Fighter aircraft was a great help to the operational planners in the absence of any other operator at base.

For this exceptional act of gallantry, the Hon'ble President is pleased to award 'Vayu Sena Medal' to Squadron Leader Gurucharan Singh Bedi.

Reference: Gazette of India dated 11th March 2000 - No.27-Pres/2000 dated 15th August 2000 

Vayu Sena Medal (Devotion to Duty)
Wg Cdr Shirish Baban Deo 15681 F(P)Unit : No.51 Squadron  Award Date Announced 26 Jan 01
Details :

Wing Commander Shirish Baban Deo (15681) Flying (Pilot) took over the command of a frontline fighter squadron on 19 Jan 98. His squadron was the only squadron that carried out operational flying training and other operational commitments simultaneously. Wg Cdr Deo has led the squadron from the front through out his tenure and has flown more than 700 sorties during the period. Having served as DS at Flying Instructors School and Tactics and Combat Development Establishment, he has used his experience and expertise to improve the training standards of the squadron and ensured accident free flying without sacrificing the quality of training.

The squadron has also performed extremely well during all inspection visits. Wg Cdr Deo's professional attitude, exceptional standard in weapon delivery and air combat skills have motivated the squadron pilots to maximise their potential. He has been thoroughly involved in all maintenance-related activities and has ensured the cohesiveness so essential in a combat unit. The Squadron has initiated various welfare and educational assistance schemes for airman's children, which helped in sustaining high morale of Squadron personnel.

For his exceptional qualities of leadership, devotion to duty, dynamism, safety consciousness, dedicated efforts for betterment of service and ability to inculcate professionalism, the Hon'ble President is pleased to award 'Vayu Sena Medal' to Wing Commander Shirish Baban Deo.

Reference: Gazette of India dated 26th May 2001 - No.68-Pres/2001 dated 26th January 2001 

Vayu Sena Medal (Devotion to Duty)
Wg Cdr Shailendra Sharma 19189 F(P)Unit : No.51 Squadron  Award Date Announced 26 Jan 08
Details :

Wing Commander Shailendra Sharma (19189) F (P) is the Commanding Officer of a MiG-21 BISON Sqn since 25 Jul 05. He is a Qualified Flying Instructor, an Instrument Rating Examiner and has a total of 3325 hours of accident free flying. Earlier he was Flight Commander of a Mirage-2000 Squadron, and has led a large number of Air to Air refuelling fly-past demonstrations. Also as Joint Director Air Defence at Air Headquarters, he was in-charge of planning an international ferry of Mirage-2000 aircraft with AAR and he participated in an exercise with the South African Air Force. On assuming Command of the present Squadron, it had only one flying supervisor and one trainer captain. At the end of completion of the first year in Command of the Squadron, it had nine supervisors, eight trainer captains by day and five trainer captains by night. All this was achieved in spite of the BISON fleet having low aircraft serviceability. Under the officer's able command and proactive approach towards flight safety the Squadron has achieved an accident free record in the last two years. During his tenure, numerous service papers on innovations were forwarded by the squadron. In the last DASI inspection, he led from the front and the squadron did exceedingly well. This has been possible only due to the officer's tireless involvement, sincerity, selfless dedication to his duty and the willingness to put in long hours of work.

For exceptional devotion to duty, Hon'ble President is pleased to award 'Vayu Sena Medal' to Wing Commander Shailendra Sharma.

Reference: Gazette of India dated 10th November 2008. No. 34-Pres/2008 dated 26th January 2008 

Mention in Despatches
Sqn Ldr Navneet Bhalla 19160 F(P)Unit : No.51 Squadron  Award Date Announced 15 Aug 99
Details :
Citation Not Available
Reference: Gazette of India No.28 - Pres/2000 dated 11th March 2000 

Mention in Despatches
Sqn Ldr Alok Chauhan 20139 F(P)Unit : No.51 Squadron  Award Date Announced 15 Aug 99
Details :
Citation Not Available
Reference: Gazette of India No.28 - Pres/2000 dated 11th March 2000 

Mention in Despatches
Sqn Ldr Rayrath Vishwanathan 20563 F(P)Unit : No.51 Squadron  Award Date Announced 15 Aug 99
Details :
Citation Not Available
Reference: Gazette of India No.28 - Pres/2000 dated 11th March 2000 

The Awards Database presented here was made possible by the kind generosity of Air Marshal Bharat Kumar, author of Courage & Devotion to Duty : A Chronicle of IAF's Honours and Awards (1932-2008). Air Marshal Bharat Kumar had very graciously given permission to reproduce the citations from the book on this website.
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Note: All the data available here is publicly available in the Gazette of India, published by the Indian Government, or from public domain sources, press releases about Awards and Right-To-Information (RTI) Requests. Additionally data shared by veterans is added to the page with permission. No data with respect to serving officers below the rank of AVM is displayed. Information in Gazette of India and Award citations and photographs as released by the Indian Air Force are the only details displayed.