In­dian Air Force turns 83

On Oc­to­ber 8, 2015, the IAF turned 83, an oc­ca­sion that was cel­e­brated with en­thu­si­asm and pride in all its units and es­tab­lish­ments across the na­tion

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While the an­niver­sary of the IAF is cer­tainly an oc­ca­sion to cel­e­brate, it is also the time for in­tro­spec­tion to rem­i­nisce over the past and to pre­pare for the chal­lenges that lie ahead

The In­dian Air Force (IAF) was of­fi­cially es­tab­lished with the pre­fix ‘Royal’ on Oc­to­ber 8, 1932, in Bri­tish In­dia with the en­act­ment of the In­dian Air Force Act the same year. Nearly six months later, the RIAF com­mis­sioned No. 1 Squadron, its very first squadron, at Drigh Road, Karachi, now in Pak­istan. On its in­ven­tory, No. 1 Squadron had just four Westland Wapiti IIA bi­planes and was manned by six of­fi­cers five of whom were pi­lots, and 19 air­men, all trained by the Royal Air Force of the United King­dom. From its hum­ble beginnings, over the last over eight decades, the IAF has grown to be the fourth largest air force in the world and to­day, it is a force to reckon with. On its in­ven­tory, the IAF now has over 1,400 air­craft and around 1,70,000 per­son­nel. Since in­de­pen­dence, the IAF has par­tic­i­pated in the wars with Pak­istan in 1965, 1971and 1999 and has al­ways risen to the oc­ca­sion pro­vid­ing swift re­sponse for dis­as­ter re­lief dur­ing nat­u­ral calamity in In­dia or abroad. It has also suc­cess­fully ex­tri­cated In­dian na­tion­als and cit­i­zens of other na­tions trapped in con­flict zones in dif­fer­ent parts of the world.

Cel­e­bra­tions on Air Force Day

On Oc­to­ber 8, 2015, the IAF turned 83, an oc­ca­sion that was cel­e­brated with en­thu­si­asm and pride in all its units and es­tab­lish­ments across the na­tion rang­ing from Kash­mir to Kanyaku­mari. Such events help en­hance amongst the gen­eral pub­lic aware­ness of and con­fi­dence in the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the IAF to meet with the chal­lenges of na­tional se­cu­rity. It also helps boost morale and el­e­vate the spir­its of ser­vice­men them­selves. The na­tional hub cen­tre of the 83rd an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions of the IAF was Air Force Sta­tion at Hin­don lo­cated on the out­skirts of Delhi. The event was marked by a pa­rade and an im­pres­sive dis­play of aerial might of the IAF. The pa­rade which had nearly 300 IAF per­son­nel in­clud­ing women of­fi­cers, was re­viewed by the chief guest Air Chief Mar­shal Arup Raha, Chief of the Air Staff (CAS)

and the Chair­man Chiefs of Staff Com­mit­tee, who con­ferred awards to hon­our air war­riors in recog­ni­tion of their self­less ser­vice to the na­tion. No. 1 Air Force Band was in at­ten­dance.

Also grac­ing the oc­ca­sion were Gen­eral Dal­bir Singh, Chief of the Army Staff, and Ad­mi­ral R.K. Dhowan, Chief of the Naval Staff. Adding unique flavour to the event was the leg­endary na­tional crick­et­ing idol Sachin Ten­dulkar who has been con­ferred the hon­orary rank of Group Cap­tain and was sport­ing the cer­e­mo­nial uni­form of the IAF. In­ci­den­tally, he is the first sportsper­son in In­dia to re­ceive this hon­our!

Felic­i­ta­tions from Dif­fer­ent Quar­ters

The IAF was fe­lic­i­tated on this oc­ca­sion by both the Pres­i­dent of In­dia Pranab Mukher­jee, the Supreme Com­man­der, and Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi. The mes­sage from the Pres­i­dent which was in­fin­itely in­spir­ing, read: “I am happy to know that the IAF is cel­e­brat­ing its 83rd an­niver­sary on Oc­to­ber 8, 2015. The IAF has re­mained in the van­guard of the In­dian skies safe­guard­ing the sovereignty of our na­tion all through its glo­ri­ous history of over eight decades. Over the years, the IAF has evolved into a for­mi­da­ble force with new ac­qui­si­tions and weapons of great pre­ci­sion. To­day, the IAF is rated one of the best in the world and has ac­quired the ca­pa­bil­ity of strate­gic reach and pre­ci­sion tar­get­ing. In to­day’s world or­der, the role of IAF is not only lim­ited to fight­ing a war; but also ren­der­ing timely as­sis­tance dur­ing na­tional cri­sis. On nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions in the past, dur­ing nat­u­ral dis­as­ters, IAF has been at the fore­front pro­vid­ing timely suc­cour and re­lief. The re­cent ef­forts of the IAF to air­lift our coun­try­men from Ye­men, res­cu­ing peo­ple dur­ing flash floods in Srinagar and the as­sis­tance ren­dered to the peo­ple of Nepal dur­ing the af­ter­math of a mas­sive earth­quake is praise­wor­thy. It bears tes­ti­mony to the IAF’s glo­ri­ous legacy of val­our, courage and com­mit­ment. The na­tion re­mains in­debted to the air war­riors for their self­less­ness and sac­ri­fice. I am con­fi­dent that the on­go­ing process of mod­erni­sa­tion will trans­form the IAF into an even more po­tent and strate­gic force and it will con­tinue to serve the na­tion with ded­i­ca­tion and com­mit­ment. On this oc­ca­sion, I ex­tend my warm greet­ings and felic­i­ta­tions to all IAF per­son­nel, civil­ians and their fam­i­lies. I am proud of the achieve­ments by the IAF over the years and wish it con­tin­ued suc­cess in all its fu­ture en­deav­ours”.

The Prime Min­is­ter eu­lo­gised the IAF with his mes­sage which read, “I salute our Air Force per­son­nel on Air Force Day. They have al­ways served In­dia with great courage and de­ter­mi­na­tion. Con­tri­bu­tion of our Air Force is mon­u­men­tal. They are al­ways at the fore­front be it in pro­tect­ing skies or in times of dis­as­ters”.

Not to be left be­hind, Hon­orary Group Cap­tain Sachin Ten­dulkar too ex­pressed his sen­ti­ments about the IAF. His post on the so­cial me­dia read: “I am proud of the ded­i­ca­tion of the IAF. Ev­ery mem­ber plays his part to per­fec­tion. Thank you to each one of them for their com­mit­ment and many sac­ri­fices.”

Air and Static Dis­play

The com­mence­ment of the pa­rade was marked by the flag-bear­ing sky­divers of the fa­mous Akash Ganga team of the IAF. The team

Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Mar­shal Arup Raha re­view­ing the pa­rade dur­ing Air Force Day at the Hin­don air­base

AIR MAR­SHAL B.K. PANDEY (RETD)

(Be­low, left-right) In­dian Air Force colours Nis­han Toli on march; IAF Air War­rior Drill Team dis­play­ing their al­lur­ing skills dur­ing Air Force Day pa­rade;

(bot­tom, left-right) Newly raised Hawk AJT as Surya Ki­ran per­form­ing ma­noeu­vres; IAF Su-30MKI es­cort­ing C-17 Globe­mas­ter III dur­ing the fly-past

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