Sqn Ldr Utpal Barbara, Vr.C, Indian Airforce

Sqn Ldr Utpal Barbara, Vr.C

On 26th April 1965, Flying Officer Utpal Barbara undertook a photo-reconnaissance sortie in the Biar Bet area in which the Pakistani Army had mounted an attack against one of our company positions.

His task was to collect evidence of the presence of Pakistani armour in this area and use of foreign tanks in the battle. The battle area was being constantly patrolled by Pakistani forces with fighter aircraft whose performance was much superior to that of the aircraft flown by Fg Off Barbara. In addition to the danger of being intercepted by enemy aircraft, there was the danger of being caught in the crossfire of the artillery duel between the Pakistani forces and our troops.

Fully aware of these risks, Fg Off Barbara decided to fly as low as 50 feet above ground level, below the trajectory of the shells. With consummate skill, he navigated to an area noted for the absence of prominent land marks, and having spotted 15 tanks, which he recognised as M-48 Patton, he took photographs of the tanks as well as of their tracks. The photographs confirmed that Pakistan had used foreign tanks inside Indian territory.

In this operation, Fg Off Barbara displayed courage, determination and professional skill of a high order in the best traditions of the Air Force.