Squadron Leader Kapil Kareem, Flying (Pilot) is on the posted strength of a Mirage Squadron. He is a fully operational 4-aircraft leader on Mirage 2000 aircraft and has 691 hours of service flying.
He was authorized to lead a 2 Vs 2 combat mission on 06 May 2014. The sortie was uneventful till the second combat situation. Towards the end of the second combat situation, on commencing a right turn at 11500′ at speed of 480 knots, the aircraft went into severe oscillations in pitch. The pitch of the aircraft varied rapidly from +15 to -25. The rapid oscillations exposed the pilot to large positive and negative g loads in a very short time. During oscillations, a maximum of +7.69 g and -6.13g were recorded (the normal human tolerance is barely -3.5g). The high rapid onset and varying g forces jolted the pilot inside the cockpit banging his head against the sight camera and canopy. The violent jolting severely sprained the pilot’s neck and he nearly became incapacitated. He could not move his neck to glance at the warning panel on the right side. He maintained calm and displaying courage of the highest order, skillfully controlled the aircraft by throttling back and selecting air brakes out. Subsequently, the oscillations stopped abruptly. He called off the combat and handed over the lead of the formation to the attacker leader. Unperturbed by his incapacitation, he maintained good situational awareness and commenced recovery. Despite being unable to straighten his neck and the resultant limitation to the vision in front, he landed the aircraft safely.
The response of the aircraft during the event was abnormal and recovery method from such situations demanded very high skill level on the part of the pilot. Sqn Ldr Kareem during the event was subjected to high g load factors and stress which is beyond the human tolerance levels. He, despite being nearly incapacitated, went beyond the call of the duty to stay with the aircraft and recover it safely, thereby displaying courage of the highest order.
For this act of exceptional courage in ensuring safe recovery of aircraft Sqn Ldr Kapil Kareem has been awarded with Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry).