Set up in a remote location in Alipurduar district on April 7, 1963, an air force station that started with two squadrons of ‘Toofani’ aircraft while its pioneers lived in jungles and shared space with wild animals, Hasimara has formally inducted the 101 Squadron of the Indian Air Force (IAF) named ‘Falcons of Chamb and Akhnoor’-the second squadron of India’s multirole Rafale fighter jets.
The defence spokesperson confirmed that the IAF has formally inducted Rafale aircraft into No. 101 Squadron at Air Force Station Hasimara under Eastern Air Command (EAC). An IAF official said archive material confirmed that Hasimara air force station in its early days was only connected with a single metre-gauge railway line to the rest of the country. Apart from the ‘Toofani’ aircraft, in January 1964, a helicopter unit was raised there with Mi-4 choppers.
Set up right after the 1962 Sino-Indian war, it later came to be known as the ‘House of Hunters’ when it housed three squadrons of Hunter aircraft. The Mi-G fighters too operated from the base for five years and later made a return from 1985 to 1987. The air force station witnessed action during the 1971 Indo-Pak war. The air warriors from Hasimara base was awarded one Mahavir Chakra, three Vir Chakras, one Vayu Sena medal and six ‘Mention-In-Desptaches’.
The defence spokesperson informed that the Rafale aircraft at Hasimara was welcomed with a water-cannon salute apart from the fly-past that marked the induction ceremony that was graced by Chief of Air Staff (CAS) RKS Bhadauria.
Recalling the glorious history of 101 Squadron which bestowed upon them the title of ‘Falcons of Chamb and Akhnoor’, the CAS urged the personnel to combine their zeal and commitment with the unmatched potential of the newly inducted platform.
The 101 ‘Falcons of Chamb and Akhnoor’ was formed on 01 May 1949 at Palam and has operated Harvard, Spitfire, Vampire, Su-7 and MiG-21M aircraft in the past. The glorious history of this Squadron includes active participation in the 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars.
The airpower from Hasimara airbase, IAF sources said, can be projected over some major Chinese airfields in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). The reason is Hasimara is closest to Chumbi valley–the tri-junction between Sikkim, Bhutan and TAR.