Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja was born on 22 May 1963 in Kota, Rajasthan. He completed his schooling at Saint Paul’s Senior Secondary School, Kota. He later graduated from the National Defence Academy and was commissioned as a fighter pilot on 14 June 1985 in the IAF. By 1999, Squadron Leader Ahuja had completed about 15 years of service. In his 15 years of service, he had experienced 1000 hours of flying. As a fighter pilot Squadron Leader Ahuja flew MiG-23 fighter-bomber and MiG-21. He also had served as a qualified flying Instructor and was extremely popular among his pupils. He had just taken over as the Flight Commander of Squadron No.17, Golden Arrows, a specialist photo-reconnaissance squadron, when the Kargil War broke out in May 1999.
|Service Number||17864 F(P)|
|Place of Birth||Kota, Rajasthan|
|Unit||17 Squadron (Air Force)|
|Date of Martyrdom||27th May 1999|
On 27 May 1999, as part of “Operation Safed Sagar”, launched by the Indian Air Force in the Kargil war. A photo-reconnaissance mission was launched over the Indian side of the line of control in Kashmir to get an insight into the enemy positions. As he was about to take his flight, Squadron Leader Ahuja was informed that a fellow officer, Flight Lieutenant Nachiketa had ejected from his MiG-27 aircraft after his plane’s engine flameout. Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja took upon himself the task of locating the officer. There was a heavy threat of surface-to-air missiles by the enemy in the area. But he continued his task to rescue the Flight Lieutenant Nachiketa. Squadron Leader Ahuja passed on the crucial information to the mission control room to enable them to launch the rescue helicopters. However, his MiG-21MF fighter, C-1539, was hit by a shoulder-fired FIM-92 Stinger missile. Squadron Leader Ahuja gave a radio call – “Hercules, something has hit my plane, the possibility of missile hit cannot be ruled out, I am ejecting over… (location).” With the exemplary presence of mind and professionalism, he attempted to steer the aircraft towards a safer area. But when the aircraft engine flamed out, Squadron Leader Ahuja had no choice but to eject. He ejected safely and tried to tell his ground location to the control room. But in suspicious condition, he got killed and martyred. His body was handed to the Indian Army by Pakistan Army on 28 May 1999. Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja displayed exceptional courage in going beyond the call of duty for carrying out the assigned search mission.
Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja was given the gallantry award, “Vir Chakra” posthumously for his undaunted courage, professionalism, and supreme sacrifice.