The MiG-21 squadron, No. 51, of which Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was part has been accorded sobriquet ‘Falcon Slayers’. It has received special uniform patch made to commemorate dogfight undertaken by MiG fighter planes on intruding aircrafts of Pakistan Air Force (PAF) in Jammu and Kashmir on February 27, 2019 following India’s pre-emptive non-military airstrike at Balakot. In this encounter, Varthaman had shot down PAF’s F-16 aircraft. In this dogfight, his Bison aircraft was also shot down after which he was ejected into Pakistani territory and was captured by Pakistan but released days later. Besides, Sukhoi-30 squadron, whose aircraft also blunted Pakistani air attack and successfully evaded AMRAAM missiles of the PAF F-16s, have also named themselves ‘AMRAAM Dodger’ in new patches.
What are Patches?
They are cloth badges that depict squadron’s role and often identify itself with important engagement in which the squadron took part. They reflect type of aircraft the squadron flies and is worn on flying overalls. They connect pilots of squadron to feat which unit has performed. They also instill sense of pride in not only present generation of pilots but also future ones. It gives sense of achievement to the pilots.
The patches for both squadrons have been designed by aviation enthusiast Saurav Chordia. He also has designed variety of patches for several IAF squadrons in the past, as well as air exercises. The first patch designed by him for IAF was for SU-30MKI squadron in 2015. He also has designed IAF Tejas Patches for the first Tejas squadron in 2016. He has also designed patches for Surya Kiran Aerobatic Team and for Gaganshkati 2018, Exercise Pitch Black 2018, Exercise Cope India 2018 and Vayu Shakti Exercise.