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SOURCE: Tribune News Service

Air Vice Marshal Ajit Singh Lamba, who was decorated with the Vir Chakra for gallantry in teh1965 Indo-Pak war and an aviator who continued to fly even when he was in his eighties, passed away at Bangalore on Wednesday after battling cancer. He was 85.

Commissioned into the Indian Air Force in April 1955, he served with No.7 Squadron during the 1965 war. As a Hunter pilot, he flew 15 operational sorties, of which 11 were in close support of the army in the Kasur and Lahore sectors.

On several of these missions he led formations of Hunter aircraft and showed great skill and determination in seeking out enemy targets and pressing home his attacks in spite of intensive ground fire and the presence of enemy interceptor aircraft, his citation states. In spite of heavy opposition, he successfully destroyed several enemy tanks and vehicles. His achievement in the destruction of enemy guns and armour near Harbanspura railway station was especially noteworthy because of the heavy defences surrounding these locations, the citation adds.

A graduate of the Test Pilot Course at Farnborough in the UK and later the National Defence College, he commanded No.22 Squadron, the Swifts, from July 1972 to January 1975

After two tenures at the Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE), Bangalore as Chief Test Pilot, he was posted as the Air Officer Commanding, 9 Wing at Halwara from January 1981 to January 1984. He served as Commandant ASTE from August 1986 till his retirement in 1991.

Having spent about 60 yeasr in the cockpit, including 36 during his service with the IAF, Lamba had flown over 100 different types of aircraft, logging about 7500 hours. He continued to fly even after retirement and also took part in flying displays during various editions of the Aero India as well as various expeditions.