Service: Indian Navy
Last Rank: Lieutenant Commander
Unit: INS Viraat
Date of Martyrdom : Apr 5, 2007
Lt Cdr Saurabh Tiwari was a trained fighter pilot of Indian Navy. Son of a Navy veteran Commodore Vijay K. Tewari, he followed into the footsteps oh his father and joined the Navy. He got trained as a fighter pilot and got posted to Sea Harrier Squadron of the Indian Navy. During 2007, he was serving with INAS 300 aboard INS Viraat, operating Sea Harrier aircraft, the only aircraft capable of operating from India’s aircraft carrier at that time.
Sea Harrier crash : April 5th, 2007
During 2007, Lt Cdr Saurabh Tiwari was serving with INAS 300 squadron aboard INS Viraat the only aircraft carrier of Indian Navy at that time. He was flying Sea Harrier aircraft, a jump-jet fighter of Indian Navy. Sea Harrier was a naval Short/Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VSTOL) Jet Fighter, Reconnaissance and Strike aircraft. Its ability of vertical takeoff and landing was the most unique feature of this fighter aircraft. The fighters were capable of Air to Air Refueling to operate at extended ranges. The Sea Harrier operated from INS Viraat, where use of the ski jump allowed the aircraft to take off from a short flight deck with a heavier load than otherwise possible, although it could also take off like a conventional fighter without thrust vectoring from a normal airport runway. Lt Cdr Saurabh Tiwari and other pilots of the squadron were required to undertake various operational missions on a regular basis as part of their operational training. Lt Cdr Saurabh Tiwari was tasked for one such mission on 05 April 2007.
On 05 Apr 2007, Commander Vikram Menon and Lt Cdr Saurabh Tiwari were assigned the task of undertaking an operational mission. The Sea Harrier was fitted with anti-ship Sea Eagle missile providing the stand-off range anti ship capability to the fleet. In addition, the fighters were also capable of firing rockets and dropping bombs in shore bombardment role or in action against lightly armed ship. A number of missions were planned as part of the training schedule to train the pilots on the possible roles of these aircraft. As planned they took off in their Trainer fighter aircraft 651 in the morning after carrying out the pre-flight checks. However soon after the take off the aircraft developed a serious snag and the pilots decided to eject. After Cdr Vikram Menon and Lt Cdr Saurabh Tiwari ejected the aircraft burst into flames and crashed into the Arabian sea. While Cdr Menon was rescued, Lt Cdr Tiwari could not be traced.
A massive rescue operation was launched with Naval ships Betwa, Nireekshak, Alleppey, Bitra, SDB 55 along with clearance diving unit of Goa and National Hydro school taking part in the search operation. The body of Lt Cdr Saurabh Tiwari was finally recovered after ten days from the sea off Grandi Island. Lt Cdr Saurabh Tiwari was a committed soldier and professionally competent Naval pilot who laid down his life in the service of the nation.
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