Service No : 9030 F(P)
Date of Birth : April 17, 1942
Place of birth : Pune (Mah)
Last Rank : Flt Lt
Unit : 1 Sqn AF
Arm/Regt : Indian Air Force
Operation : Op Cactus Lily
Martyrdom : December 11, 1971
Flt Lt Ashok Balwant Dhavale hailed from Pune in Maharashtra and was born on 17 Apr 1942. He was commissioned into the Indian Air Force on 25 Dec 1964 at the age of 22 years. He joined the flying stream of the IAF and got trained as a fighter pilot as part of 91st Pilots' course. After completing his flying training, he served with various flying squadrons located at different Air Force bases.
After serving for sometime he got married to Ms Anuradha Pagadi, daughter of Padmabhushan Setumadhavrao Pagadi, a well known writer and historian of Maharashtra. By 1971, he had put in around 7 years of service and evolved into a professionally competent fighter pilot having expertise in various air operations.
Air Operation (Indo-Pak War) : 11 Dec 1971
During 1971, Flt Lt AB Dhavale was serving with 1 Sqn, known as “The Tigers" and was based at Air Force Station Adampur. 1 Squadron of the Indian Air Force was formed at Karachi on 01 April 1933 and was equipped with Westland Wapiti aircraft. In 1953 the Squadron moved to Palam and then to Air Force Base at Kalaikunda in 1957 with Squadron Leader Dilbagh Singh(who later became Chief of Air Staff) as its commanding officer. In 1964 it moved to Adampur with Wing Commander Om Prakash Taneja as its commanding officer. In July 1966, still under the Command of Wing Commander OP Taneja, the Tigers were re-equipped with the supersonic Mach-2 class, all weather interceptor- the MiG-21 FL. When the 1971 Indo-Pak War broke out, the squadron was under the command of Wg Cdr Upkar Singh and based at Adampur. The squadron was tasked with the Air Defence of Punjab sector and providing air cover to our own attacking formations deep inside enemy territory. Flt Lt A B Dhavale was tasked to undertake one such operation on 11 Dec 1971.
On the night of 11 December, 1971, in response to an incoming air raid by the enemy aircrafts, a night scramble was ordered. Flt Lt Dhavale was on the ORP (Operational Readiness Platform) and immediately took off to deal with the threat. However his aircraft went missing and the last contact with the SU (Signal Unit) was reported north of Dasuya forty five kilometres south of Pathankot. The aircraft wreckage was later found in Indian territory at Sarna, about eight kilometers west of Pathankot. Flt Lt Dhavale’s aircraft was presumably shot down by an Indian aircraft from Adampur airbase. Though Flt Lt Dhavale’s belongings were recovered from the crash site, his body was never found. He is presumed to have been taken over as a POW (Prisoner of War). However, successive regimes in Pakistan have denied the existence of Indian POWs in its jails. Presently, Flt Lt AB Dhavale's name features on the official list of the ’54 Personnel Missing in Action’, tabled in the Lok Sabha in 1979 by Shri Samarendra Kundu, Minister of State of External Affairs.
Flt Lt Ashok Balwant Dhavale is survived by his wife Smt Anuradha Dhavale.