PRESIDENT CONFERS VAYU SENA MEDAL (GALLANTRY) TO GROUP CAPTAIN ABHISHEK SHARMA FLYING (PILOT)
National Defence Bureau,
New Delhi, 14 August 2018
On 08 Jul 17, Wing Commander (now Group Captain) Abhishek Sharma was authorised to fly an Instrument Flying sortie as captain from rearseat in a MiG-29 trainer aircraft along with Flight Lieutenant Arjun Anthony Rebello. On engaging the autopilot level mode, the aircraft viciously rolled to the right and became inverted. With great difficulty the pilots disengaged level mode and brought the aircraft to normal upright flight. Excessive control pressure in both longitudinal and lateral channel was experienced. Wg Cdr A Sharma continued to fly the aircraft with great difficulty as excessive forces were required in both roll and pitch to maintain controlled flight. Secondary controls such as trimmers were also not functioning. The emergency was extremely dangerous wherein the aircraft was barely controllable. The captain had the option to take a decision to abandon aircraft by ejecting from it. Abandoning the aircraft could have resulted in loss of an aircraft. It could have also resulted in serious collateral damage on ground to citizens and property. Despite the difficult and critical in flight situation, he decided to carry out a landing. Throughout the recovery, the aircraft displayed oscillations with excessive stick forces to the right which he had to control using both hands to apply extreme force. The approach was precarious with severe problems in alignment and maintenance of flight path. By his act of exceptional courage, he recovered the aircraft safely from a situation which could have otherwise resulted in loss of a valuable asset of the IAF. After landing both ailerons were found at max deflection and control stick was almost to fully right position, which were a testimony to the seriousness of the aircraft emergency.
For this act of exceptional courage in recovering a stricken aircraft and displaying very high standards of professionalism, Wing Commander (Now Group Captain) Abhishek Sharma is awarded Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry).
PRESIDENT CONFERS VAYU SENA MEDAL (GALLANTRY) TO SQUADRON LEADER VERNON DESMOND KEANE FLYING (PILOT)
On 16 Nov 17, Squadron Leader VD Keane was authorised to lead a 4 Vs 2 air combat mission. During route out towards the sector, “Engine 2 Reheat Zone Fire Warning Light” came ON. He took prompt and correct emergency actions and decided to switch off the engine to contain the spread of fire. Thereafter, he astutely assessed his position, aircraft configuration and wind conditions and decided to head for opposite runway for fastest recovery. A single engine recovery on a Jaguar aircraft is known to be critical and challenging for landing. Showing presence of mind in a dangerous situation, he took correct cockpit actions including jettisoning fuel towards single engine recovery. While positioning for a landing, the “Fire Warning” alsocame on for the second engine. Already on a single engine, which was now on fire too, he was faced with the prospect of landing with a grave aircraft emergency or taking a decision of abandoning the aircraft by ejection. Showing great presence of mind and fearlessness, he decided to go in for a landing, fully knowing the dangers to his life. He landed the aircraft safely and carried an emergency exit after stopping the aircraft. Post flight inspection revealed prominent signs of fire on keel surface of both engines.
Sqn Ldr VD Keane, despite being a young fighter pilot with limited experience was under immense pressure to handle a grave aircraft emergency of both engines on fire. He showed exceptional courage, resolve and excellent professionalism in carrying out a safe and expeditious recovery of the aircraft in a dynamic situation. Any delay or incorrect action in the critical stage of flying could have aggravated the situation rapidly and resulted in loss of theJaguar aircraft. Further, had the aircraft been abandoned it could have led to extensive collateral damage on the ground to civilians and property.
For this act of exceptional courage in handling a grave aircraft emergency, Squadron Leader Vernon Desmond Keane is awarded Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry).
PRESIDENT CONFERS VAYU SENA MEDAL (GALLANTRY) TO SERGEANT SHASHIDHAR P PRASAD INDIAN AIR FORCE (GARUD)
Sergeant Shashidhar P Prasad Indian Air Force (Garud) was deployed in Op Rakshak. On receipt of specific intelligence at 1600 h on 10 Oct 17, about presence of terrorists hiding in a house, an operation was launched jointly by Garud team and Army Units in Boon Mohalla of village Rakh Hajin, district Bandipora in Jammu & Kashmir. Garud team was assigned the responsibility to establish innermost cordon around the target house to prevent escape of terrorists. Sgt Shashidhar demonstrated exceptional situational awareness and team work in establishing a cordon that blocked the likely escape route of terrorists. At 0440 h on 11 Oct 17, with the intention to break the cordon and escape, six to seven terrorists came out of the house firing Under Barrel Grenade Launcher, throwing hand grenades and firing bullets indiscriminately on the cordon laid by Garud team. Having sensed the intentions of fleeing terrorists, Sgt Shashidhar demonstrated indomitable courage and high degree of expertise in weapon skills by exercising effective and accurate fire on the terrorists thereby, resulting in shooting down of two category ‘A’ terrorists. Sgt Shashidhar disregarded his personal safety, exhibited admirable team work and ensured speedy evacuation of the injured men in the intensely fought close quarter battle.
For this act of exceptional courage, Sgt Shashidhar P Prasad is awarded Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry).