#WhatTheFAQ: On Indian Air Force Day, recollecting the important operations they carried out

Fighting wars, conducting rescue operations and protecting the nation. On this auspicious day, let’s look at the history of IAF and peek into the future too
Pic: EdexLive
Pic: EdexLive

It’s been 90 years since the Indian Air Force (IAF) was founded and was officially raised as the supporting force of the Royal Air Force of the United Kingdom in 1932. Touted to be the fourth largest Air Force in the world, the day of October 8 every year brings citizens together to pay tribute to this force.

What special events will take place today? What are some of the important operations that the IAF has been involved in? Today’s FAQ will answer some of your questions about the same

What is the history of the Indian Air Force?

The Indian Air Force first came into being on October 8, 1932. Its first flight was operated on April 1, 1933, with six Rapid Action Force (RAF) -trained officers and 19 Havai Sepoys (air soldiers). As India was a part of the British empire then, the Air Force came with the 'Royal' tag. However, after India gained independence from Great Britain in 1947 and the following transition to a Republic in 1950, the prefix Royal was removed.

What are some of the important operations that IAF has been involved in?

After the transition to a Republic in 1950, the IAF has been involved in four wars with the neighbouring country Pakistan. The 1971 Indo-Pak war which resulted in the creation of Bangladesh, was preceded by an aerial conflict between the countries’ respective air forces. The IAF carried out some 4,000 sorties (deployment of military units) in the West from major and forward bases in Jammu, Kashmir, Punjab and Rajasthan, while in the East, a further 1,978 sorties were flown, as per the IAF’s archives. Other major operations undertaken by the IAF include Operation Vijay, Operation Meghdoot, Operation Cactus and Operation Poomalai.

Apart from fighting wars, the IAF has also been involved in peacekeeping missions. According to the IAF archives, the contingent conducted a rescue operation on May 7, 2000, in Makeni in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone where they were tasked to evacuate three Kenyan battle casualties and 11 UN Military observers from the besieged garrison.

Within India too, during the floods that wreaked havoc in Uttarakhand in 2015, the IAF along with a few civil helicopters conducted Operation Rahat as part of the flood relief measures. Similarly, following the cloudburst in Amarnath this year, the IAF deployed eight of its helicopter assets for rescue and relief operations.

What special events will be held today?

It is for the first time that the IAF decided to hold its annual Air Force Day parade and fly-past outside the Delhi NCR. The IAF will put up a dazzling show with a range of aircraft during its air show, as part of its 90th anniversary celebrations.

Nearly 80 military aircraft and helicopters will be participating in the Air Force Day fly-past at the Sukhna Lake complex in Chandigarh, officials said, as stated in a report by PTI.

President Droupadi Murmu and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will be present at Sukhna Lake to witness the aerial show. Before the air show, a ceremonial parade will also be held at the air force station. The Chief of Air Staff will also unveil the new pattern of combat uniform for the IAF personnel on this occasion, they said, as per PTI.

There will be a demonstration by the mechanical transport team of vehicle dismantling and reassembly at the event, followed by a performance of the air warrior drill team. Additionally, the fly-past will be held at Sukhna Lake.

What does the future of IAF look like?

The IAF has so far made efforts to induct newer weapons systems along with upgrading existing equipment. It formally inducted the Rafale aircraft into its 101 Squadron of the Eastern Air Command last year. The multi-role Rafale jets, built by French aerospace major Dassault Aviation, are known for air superiority and precision strikes, according to reports. They are capable of carrying a range of potent weapons.

The IAF has also deployed its Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter jets to keep the Chinese military in check amidst the standoff in the region. Reports point out that a project has been initiated to determine if the life of these jets can be extended from the existing life span of 25 years to 35 years. Additionally, around 84 Su-30s will be upgraded over the next four to five years.

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