Squadron Leader Anil Bhalla (Retd.), who took part in 1971 war as a young officer has died after battling COVID-19, his family sources said on Tuesday.
The 74-year-old flying warrior died on Monday night at Hyderabad where he had settled after retirement from the Indian Air Force in 1984, the sources said.
Squadron Leader Bhalla joined the National Defence Academy’s 32nd course after studying at Sainik School Satara in western Maharashtra. He was commissioned into the IAF’s fighter wing in 1968 and operated from the Tezpur-based 28th Squadron, flying the Russian-origin aircraft.
During the 1971 war, he flew several active attack missions to heavily defended targets like the Governor House in Dhaka, which became instrumental in forcing Pakistan’s surrender, a former colleague said.
Squadron Leader Bhalla was also the youngest Flying Officer to get the Master Green IR (instrumental rating), awarded to pilots who have displayed superior airmanship. It recognises a higher level of experience and accomplishment in instrument flying.
The air veteran, who had a successful career in the construction business after retirement from the IAF, is survived by wife, a son, and two daughters.