Service No : 4800 GD(P)
Date of Birth : December 14, 1934
Last Rank : Sqn Ldr
Arm/Regt : Indian Air Force
Operation : Indo-Pak War-1965
Martyrdom : September 7, 1965
Sqn Ldr Sureshchandra Bhaskar Bhagwat was born on 14th Dec 1934. He was commissioned into the Indian Air Force as Pilot Officer on 06 Nov 1954 at the age of 20 years. He joined the flying stream of the IAF and got trained as a fighter pilot as part of 64th Pilots' course. After completing his flying training, he served with various flying squadrons located at different Air Force bases. He became a Flying Officer on 06 Nov 1955 and few years later was promoted to the rank of Flight Lieutenant.
By 1965, he had put in around 11 years of service and had been promoted to the rank of Squadron Leader. By that he had evolved into an ace fighter pilot having expertise in various air operations. During 1965 he was serving with 7 Sqn based at Palam.
Offensive Air Operation (Indo-Pak War) : 07 Sep 1965
During 1965, Sqn Ldr SB Bhagwat was serving with No. 7 Squadron, flying Hawker Siddeley Hunter fighter-bombers. The squadron had a long operational history stretching back to the Burma Campaign of World War II. No.7 Squadron was formed on 01st December 1942 at Vizagapatnam under the command of Sqn Ldr Hem Chaudhuri. In early 1961, 7 Squadron equipped with Hunters was based at Palam airbase in New Delhi. In 1965, the Squadron known as "Battle Axes" was operating flying Hawker Siddeley Hunter fighter-bombers and was based at Halwara in Punjab. In 1965, as fighting flared up in the Chamb sector on 1 Sep, the squadron was called upon to carry out its first offensive sorties on the morning of 7th Sept, when numerous sorties were flown against 'Targets of Opportunity' in support of the Indian army's offensive across the International border. Hunters of different squadrons were clubbed together at Halwara and missions flown consisting of mixed formations. Sqn Ldr SB Bhagwat was part of a number of missions and played a crucial role in meeting the war time objectives of the Squadron.
As part of continuing air offensive, 7 Squadron was entrusted to attack the highly fortified Sargodha air base of Pakistan Air Force. Sargodha airbase located west of Lahore hosted the headquarters of the Central Air Command, one of the three combatant air commands of the PAF. The base was the hub of PAF effort during the war. On 7th Sept the IAF mounted 33 sorties against the heavily guarded PAF complex at Sargodha. The commanding officer of the 7 Squadron, Wg Cdr OP Taneja decided to launch a wave of sorties on 7th September. Sqn Ldr S B Bhagwat was tasked for one such mission to strike Sargodha airbase on 07 Sep 1965.
Led by Wg Cdr Zacharaiah, five Hunters took off on that day, to strike the Sargodha airbase in the early morning of 07 Sep 1965. Sqn Ldr SB Bhagwat and Fg Offr Jagdev were flying in an escort role of the mission. However the Hunters were intercepted enroute by enemy fighters. The mission was aborted, but escorts, flown by Sqn Ldr SB Bhagwat and Fg Offr JS Brar engaged the enemy aircraft. In the ensuing air combat Sqn Ldr SB Bhagwat 's aircraft got hit and crashed somewhere in the Nankana Sahib district of the Punjab Province of Pakistan. Sqn Ldr SB Bhagwat could not survive the crash and was martyred. Sqn Ldr SB Bhagwat was a brave and committed air warrior, who laid down his life at the age of 31 years in the service of the nation.