Service No : 7192 F(P)
Date of Birth : August 7, 1941
Place of birth : Delhi
Last Rank : Flight Lieutenant
Unit : 5 Sqn AF
Arm/Regt : Indian Air Force
Operation : Op Cactus Lily
Martyrdom : December 10, 1971
Flight Lieutenant Ravindra Dhar Naithani hailed from Delhi and was born on 07 Aug 1941. He was commissioned into the Indian Air Force on 09 Mar 1963 at the age of 21 years. He was commissioned in the flying stream of the IAF and got trained as a fighter pilot as part of 83 Pilots' course. After completing his flying training, Flt Lt Naithani served with various flying squadrons located at different Air Force bases.
After serving for some time he got married to Ms Uma. By 1971, Flt Lt RD Naithani had put in about 8 years of service and evolved into a professionally competent fighter pilot having experience in various air operations.
Offensive Air Operation (Indo-Pak War) : 10 Dec 1971
During 1971, Flt Lt Naithani was serving with 5 Squadron known as "Tuskers" which was operating Canberra fighter bomber aircraft. The 5 Squadron was formed at Kanpur on 2 November 1948, under the command of Squadron Leader JRS “Danny” Dantra. Within a couple of months, it moved to Poona (now Pune), which was to remain its base for the next eight years. The Squadron was initially equipped with B-24 Liberators, but on 1 September 1957 under the command of Wing Commander (Later Air Commodore) WR Dani, became the first IAF squadron to be equipped with the B(I)58 bomber-interdictor version of the Canberra. As the PAF attacked 11 Air Force bases on 03 Dec 1971, the Indian Air Force decided to launch counter offensive operations on the eastern as well as western front. 5 Sqn commanded by Wing Commander (later Group Captain) Man Mohan Bir Singh Talwar was tasked to undertake offensive missions against the targets on the western front. The first raid on the Pakistani air bases took place about 2300 hours on 3 December.
The Indian Canberras struck at the air bases at Chander, Sargodha, Mianwali, Rafiqui, Murid and Risalwala. Early next day about 200 sorties were flown by Hunters and SU-7s against these bases and the radar installations at Sakesar and Badin. Later in the day Hunters penetrated as deep as Kohat, Peshawar and Chaklala. These attacks continued thereafter with renewed vigour. Flt Lt Naithani was tasked for one such strike mission on Lodharan railway station in Lodharan city in Punjab province of Pakistan on 10 Dec 1971 with Flt Lt G Theophilus as first navigator and Flt Lt M Purohit as 2nd navigator.
As planned Flt Lt R D Naithani along with Flt Lt G Theophilus as first navigator and Flt Lt M Purohit as 2nd navigator took off on 10 Dec and reached the target area as per the given TOT (Time Over Target). As the target was important for the enemy, it was heavily defended by the anti-aircraft guns and air defence aircraft. Despite the threat of enemy air defence assets, Flt Lt R D Naithani went for the attack. However their aircraft crashed while returning after the attack and the actual reasons for the crash could not be ascertained. They are presumed to have been taken over as a POWs (Prisoners of War). However, successive regimes in Pakistan have denied the existence of Indian POWs in its jails. Presently, Flt Lt Naithani'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 at that time.
Flt Lt R D Naithani is survived by his wife Smt Uma Naithani.