Working from home at the nondescript Basugaon town in Assam's Chirang district, Saurav Chordia misses his office at a gaming firm in Delhi and those long hours of intense work at his designing console. However, while at home, Saurav never misses an opportunity to discuss aeroplanes and the Air force.
Speaking about the Rafale fighter jets, the day they touched down on Indian soil, Saurav had a spark of pride in his eyes. Because of him, Assam has a connection with the Rafale. The first squadron flying the aircraft wears a patch on the flight suits designed by this Assam man.
“It was last year that the task was allotted to me. The 17 Squadron wanted a new patch for them which needed to show the glorious past and a modern look. The patch is to be worn in the flying overall,” said Saurav Chordia.
The time available to complete the design was little and the task was challenging.
“If you look at the patch design, the outer circle has the squadron name, Golden Arrow, and the motto Udayam Ajasram (Arise Ever) in golden. The tricolour and Ashok Chakra are prominent in the core area. The Rafale aircraft and a Himalayan eagle have distinct representation in the patch. The colour of the patch has been kept subtle with a distinct objective,” explained Saurav.
Born to a local Marwari cloth merchant family of Basugaon, the 22-year-old completed his graduation from Amity University, and since then has been engaged in 3D designing in the national capital. Saurav has designed over 300 patches and has worked on several prestigious projects, which he said he did not wish to share.
“I have a liking for aeroplanes and the Air Force since childhood. I have a collection of 5,000 patches from 80 countries across the world. Besides, I am into aircraft photography. I have been to several international air shows. The games I design primarily have fighter plane designing as a component,” said Saurav. "I have seen the Rafale in 2017 and 2019 air shows and they seemed quite interesting and lethal."
The Indian Air Force (IAF) resurrected the Air Force Station (AFS) Ambala-based 17 Squadron ‘Golden Arrows’, to operate the first squadron of Rafale fighter jets in September 2019. On December 31, 2011, the squadron was ‘number plated’ after the Russian MiG-21 jets that it flew were decommissioned as part of the IAF’s long-term plan to phase the decades-old aircraft out of service and was since awaiting newer inductions.
The 17 Squadron was raised at Ambala on October 01, 1951, under the command of Flight Lieutenant DL Springett and initially equipped with the Harvard-II B aircraft. By November 1955, the squadron converted fully to de Havilland Vampire jets and, by 1957, Hawker Hunter aircraft were flown by the ‘Golden Arrows’. The squadron converted to the MiG-21 M in 1975.
Between October 2019 and May 2020, three batches — each comprising eight IAF pilots along with engineers and technicians — underwent advanced training on the Rafale jets in France.