Date of Birth : May 1, 1988

Place of birth : Mumbai, MH

Last Rank : Lieutenant

Unit : INAS 310

Arm/Regt : Indian Navy

Martyrdom : March 24, 2015

Lt Kiran Shekhawat

Lieutenant Kiran Shekhawat was born on 01 May 1988 in Mumbai into a Naval family. Daughter of Hon Lt Vijendra Singh Shekhawat and Smt Madhu Chauhan, Lt Kiran Shekhawat belonged to Sefarguwar village in Khetri Tehsil of Jhunjhunu district in Rajasthan. She completed her schooling from Kendriya Vidyalaya-II in Vishakhapatnam and then graduated with a Bachelor of Science from Andhra University. She then worked with a private bank before joining the Indian Naval Academy (INA) in Ezhimala, Kerala in 2010. She then joined the ‘Observer School’ in Jan 2011 and got her coveted ‘wings’ in Feb 2012. After earning her wings, she joined INAS 311 known as “Kites” as her first assignment and worked as a mission controller.
 
In Feb 2013, Lt Kiran Shekhawat got married to a fellow naval officer Lt Vivek Singh Chhoker from Kurthala near Gurgaon, where her mother-in-law Sunita Chhoker was a sarpanch and the family had some agricultural land. After a fruitful tenure at INS Dega, she then joined the Indian Naval Air Squadron (INAS) 310 — a premier IW squadron nicknamed "Cobras". In her five-year career, she was posted across various Naval stations and was transferred to Goa in 2015. Being an expert on intelligence warfare, she was responsible for recording the environment charts and various other parameters required for intelligence analysis.
 
In a short span of time, she developed into an extremely focused and disciplined officer. Lt Kiran Shekhawat had a passion for flying and when she wasn’t on duty, she loved dancing and listening to the tracks of Enrique Iglesias and Shania Twain. A big fan of author Nicholas Sparks, she made sure she either read all his books or watched the movies based on them. Lt Shekhawat also had the distinction of taking part in the first all-women marching contingent of the Navy during the Republic Day parade on 26 Jan 2015.
 

Indian Navy Dornier Crash: 24th March 2015

 

During Mar 2015, Lt Kiran Shekhawat was serving with Indian Naval Air Squadron (INAS) 310, a maritime reconnaissance squadron of the Indian Navy based at Goa. It was one of the most decorated naval air squadrons, with a distinguished history. Initially equipped with French Breguet Br. 1050 Alizé aircraft, the squadron later operated German-origin Dornier Do-228 aircraft from INS Hansa, in Dabolim, Goa. The Dornier Do-228 aircraft inducted in 1991 in the squadron was configured for Maritime Patrol (MP) and Electronic warfare roles. At the time of their induction, the aircraft were fitted with MEL Super Marec 360º Search radar, sonobuoys, AES 210 ESM, and direction-finding systems. Subsequently, HAL's modifications to the airframe included four underwing hardpoints, to accommodate additional external payload including wing-mounted 7.62mm gun pods. In 1998, GPS units and new ELINT equipment were installed resulting in a major capability upgrade for the squadron’s Dorniers. During Op Vijay, from May to July 1999, the "Cobras"  carried out MR/ELINT missions in close coordination with the Army and the Air Force. This was the first time the Dornier was deployed as an EW platform in support of the Army and the Air Force for integrated ELINT operations. The Cobras also played a vital part in the 2001-2002 India-Pakistan stand-off following the Indian Parliament attack by the suspected terrorists on Dec 13, 2001. Deploying at the commencement of 'Op Parakram' in January 2002, the squadron, with aircraft painted in a low visibility grey color scheme, was detached to Naliya to carry out more ELINT operations. On 24 Mar 2015, the squadron undertook one more such mission with Commander Nikhil Joshi, co-pilot Lt Abhinav Nagori, and Lt Kiran Shekhawat, as an observer. Lt Kiran was operating in a combat role as an observer in the tactical sorties flown over the ocean for tracking and engaging hostile ships violating the country’s maritime boundaries.

 

The aircrew completed the operational ground checks and the aircraft took off from Goa as planned on 24 Mar 2015. It was a night sortie and was uneventful in the initial part of the mission. At about 10 pm the Dornier aircraft transmitted the message to the Air Traffic Control - "Ops Normal". But as the Dornier was trying to gain height after flying as low as 50 feet, a crucial part of the exercise, it disappeared from the screen of the Naval Air Traffic Controller on duty at that time at the Goa airport. The Naval ATC alerted the air traffic control at the Mumbai, Mangalore, and Trivandrum airports to see if they could trace the plane. Within 40 minutes, the first ship and helicopters of the Indian Navy left the Goa harbour to search for the missing Dornier. Eventually, it was confirmed that the aircraft had crashed about 25nm off the coast of Goa at about 22:08 hours. The body of Lt Kiran Shekhawat and that of the co-pilot Lt Abhinav Nagori were recovered two days after the crash, while the pilot Commander Nikhil Joshi was rescued by a fisherman. The wreckage of the Dornier was found about 60 m under the sea at the south-west of Goa coast. The body of Lieutenant Shekhawat was found inside the fuselage of the aircraft. Lt Kiran Shekhawat was a brave and committed soldier who became the first Naval woman officer to die in harness. Lt Kiran Shekhawat will always be remembered for her service to the nation and her story will continue to inspire future generations of India.

 
Lieutenant Shekhawat’s father retired from the Navy as Hony Lt and is now running a charitable organization called, “Lt Kiran Shekhawat Foundation” in her honour. Lt Kiran Shekhawat is survived by her father Hon Lt Vijendra Singh Shekhawat, mother Smt Madhu Chauhan, and brother Shri Sandeep Shekhawat.
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35 Comments
  • Lt Col GV Sreedhar (retd) Bangalore.

    2023 at 12:08 pm Reply

    My tributes to you Dear Kiran Shekhawat, my heart goes to you and your bereaved family. Girls of our country must take example from your bravery and join to take to combat flying. I salute you.

  • Meena

    2023 at 12:08 pm Reply

    Your sacrifice will always be remembered and you will remain a hero for countless Indians. I salute you. Jai Hind

  • Hemendra Kumar

    2023 at 12:38 pm Reply

    Even our life weighs less infront of their sacrifice and devotion for Nation’s safety.
    THEIR PASSION TO SERVE THE NATION,
    IS A LIVING FACE OF PURE DEVOTION.

  • Swagatika Das Sarma

    2023 at 12:39 pm Reply

    She was brave & talented lady in a very orthodox state in India.I salute her for her distinguished personality.

  • chunnilal shah

    2023 at 12:39 pm Reply

    A Big Big Salute u

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