It’s been 82 years since its formation and here are some great facts about the Indian Air Force – the guardian of our airspace.
The Indian Air Force was established in British India as an auxiliary air force of the Royal Air Force with the enactment of the Indian Air Force Act 1932 on 8 October that year. The prefix Royal was added in 1945 in recognition of its services during World War II
On 1 April 1933, the IAF commissioned its first squadron, No.1 Squadron, with 5 Indian pilots. The Indian pilots were led by RAF Commanding officer Flight Lieutenant (later Air Vice Marshal) Cecil Bouchier.
During World War II, the IAF played an instrumental role in blocking the advance of the Japanese army in Burma, where its first air strike was on the Japanese military base in Arakan. RAF Pilots were embedded in IAF units and vice versa to gain combat experience. IAF pilots participated in air operations in Europe as part of the RAF.
4th largest Air Force
India has the 4th largest Air Force in the world – First 3 are USA, Russia & China.
Evolution of Roundel
The roundel of IAF saw a few changes over its first 18 years. Finally when India became a republic in 1950, the prefix ‘Royal’ was dropped from the Indian Air Force. At the same time, the current IAF roundel was adopted.
The small and nimble IAF Folland Gnats earned the nickname “Sabre Slayers” during the ’65 war against F-86 Sabres of the PAF(Pakistan Air Force) . This was big, considering PAF was technologically superior & had substantial strategic and tactical advantage due to their sudden attack and whole hearted diplomatic and military support from the US and Britain. However, by the time the conflict had ended, the IAF lost 73 aircrafts, while the PAF lost 43. The Indian Air Force issued a requirement for an improved Gnat in 1972 – naming it ‘Ajeet‘
Garud Commando Force is the special force on Indian Air Force. Its main task is to protect the critical Air Force bases and installations from terrorist attacks. They are also capable of counter-terrorism, anti-hijacking, radar busting, hostage rescue, lasing of targets to support air operations.
Additionally, they can also undertake search and rescue operations, rescue friendly soldiers, aid during natural calamities and other military tasks. Garuds are also deployed in Congo as a part of UN peace Keeping operations
Sachin Tendulkar was the first sportsperson and the first civilian without aviation background to be awarded the honorary rank of Group Captain by the Indian Air Force.
Surya Kiran & Sarang
‘Surya Kiran’ is an aerobatics demonstration team of the Indian Air Force. Helicopter Display Team of IAF is ‘Sarang’. As IAF is facing an acute shortage of Pilots, Surya Kiran Aerobatic Team(SKAT) & ‘Sarang’ may become history as IAF may think of utilizing pilots in various fighter Aircraft.
Motto of IAF is – नभःस्पृशं दीप्तम् – translating to ‘Touch the Sky with Glory‘
Wishing IAF a Happy AIR FORCE DAY. May the ‘Force’ always be with you!