Wing Commander Uttar Kumar, a pilot in a Sukhoi Su-30MKI Squadron since July 2017, has been conferred with Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry) by the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, for his act of exceptional courage, informed the Ministry of Defence.
As per a statement issued by the Ministry, Wing Commander Uttar Kumar was authorised to fly Air to Air Refuelling Instructional sortie. During the mission, the refuelling hose broke free from the pod of the other Su-30MKI while the drogue was still connected to his aircraft probe. The snapped hose whiplashed towards the aircraft and violently impacted the canopy and the airframe; because of which the aircraft experienced very strong pitch up moment and vicious oscillations.
The snapping of the hose had also resulted in a fuel leak from the mother aircraft. Despite experiencing an unknown emergency involving abrupt aircraft oscillations in the vicinity of another aircraft, he calmly assessed the situation and retained complete control. He immediately advised the crew of the mother aircraft to take certain actions that stopped fuel leaks and facilitated its safe recovery.
Since the flying controls of his aircraft were restricted in movement, with a strong tendency to pitch up, a large amount of pressure and exceptional flying skill was required to pilot the aircraft for a safe recovery.
He planned the recovery pattern meticulously since the vision to the right was negligible owing to the blackening of the canopy post-impact. He quickly calculated the optimum speed to fly to ensure that the aircraft could be controlled. He exercised superior flying skills and gave unconventional control inputs on the approach to land the aircraft safely. Post landing, the hose was found to be entangled with the undercarriage D-door as well, and it posed a substantial risk of fire.
In the moment of a life-endangering situation that could have led to the ejection of both the pilots, his exemplary courage and piloting skills were instrumental in the safe recovery of not only his aircraft but also the other aircraft.