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“Dien Bien Phu in the air” – the depiction of faith and resolution to victory

The victory inspired the Vietnamese to achieve complete independence and unification.

After 50 years, the victory of "Dien Bien Phu in the air" - a battle lasting for 12 days and nights in December 1972 - remains an example for the younger generation to follow, according to opinions expressed at a workshop on November 16.

Former pilots and veterans directly partook in the air defense operation in December 1972. Photo: Vietnam News Agency

The campaign, widely known as "Dien Bien Phu in the Air," was a defense operation launched by the Vietnam Air Force and ground-based air defense against US air raids with B52 bomber - the most modern aircraft of the time - in Hanoi and neighboring cities and provinces.

The operation lasted 12 days and nights, from December 18 to 30, 1972. The significant victory inspired the Vietnamese to achieve complete independence and unification from foreign aggressors.

Major General Vu Van Kha, acting chief of the Air Force, said the victory has remained memorable and valuable even to the Vietnamese and international communities. "That was one of the greatest victories in the history of Vietnam and the Air Force," and "that affirms the vision of the Party and President Ho Chi Minh in the development and deployment of the air force."

Military specialists and veterans pointed out that the Air Force carried out an art of air combat at that time, in which ground air defenses and air force units played the leading role in cooperation with the local militia.

They also suggested solutions to improve the quality of training of air forces and anti-aircraft units so that they are always prepared for new circumstances.

Telling the story of the December 1972 air combat, national hero Major General Pham Tuan said that the Air Force had the mission to cooperate with anti-aircraft units to shoot down the US planes before they reached the capital and defend Hanoi's air, facilities, and people.

By the end of 1972, the Air Force had created five regiments, but only two were available for the fight, Tuan said.

The task was tricky, as he said Vietnamese pilot squadrons were understaffed and underqualified, adding that half of the pilots were freshmen and had never operated in cramped and difficult airfields.

Among the most successful and effective units was Battalion 77. The unit was part of the 257th Missile Regiment of the 361st Anti-Aircraft Division, responsible for defending Hanoi's air. Battalion 77 participated in 18 engagements and shot down four B52 bombers.

People's Armed Forces hero Col. Dinh The Van said that before the campaign, the battalion participated in intensive training courses on detecting and shooting at enemy aircraft. "The 77th Battalion also organized special classes to study the B52 bomber," he said. "Good preparation was key for Battalion 77 to be one of the two units that shot down the most B52 bombers during the operation."

Colonel Nghiem Dinh Tich credited the spirit of collaboration among the defensive units as the leading cause of the victory. "The radar teams, led by the 45th Radar Company of the 291st Radar Regiment, were always ready and well prepared to detect US aircraft from a distance and provided accurate alerts and information updates to other teams, the militia, and the population, thus contributing to a victorious campaign," he said.

According to the Vietnam Air Force - Air Defense, soldiers and officers highly appreciate the sacrifice and devotion of ancestors to develop the art of air defense.

They are committed to fostering patriotism, mental strength, and belief in the Party's leadership, overcoming all difficulties, and fulfilling all tasks required to defend the country.

The workshop was organized by the Vietnam Air Force - Air Defense to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dien Bien Phu in the air and affirm the valuable lessons and ideas contributed by veterans who fought directly in the air battle.