Guardians of the Indian Skies, Indian Air Force celebrated its 84th anniversary on October 8, 2016. A highly disciplined and professional force, IAF has earned a place of pride among Air Forces of the world and more importantly in the hearts of billions of Indians. October 8, 1932 saw the birth of IAF. Little did the six Royal Air Force trained officers and 19 Hawai Sepoys imagine that Indian Air Force would attain the reputation it enjoys today. Starting with four Westland Wapiti IIA army cooperation biplanes at Drigh Road, Karachi as the 'A' Flight nucleus of the planned No. 1 Squadron, the IAF has a huge inventory today. As years went by, Flt Lt S Mukherjee, later Air Marshal S Mukherjee, Wg Cdr Jumbo Majumdar, Air Commodore Mehar Singh 'Baba', Hawai Sepoy Harjinder Singh, later Air Vice Marshal Harjinder Singh took the Air Force from strength to strength.
Aircrafts such as Su-30, Mirage 2000, Jaguar, Mig-21, Mig-23, Mig-25, Mig-27 and Mig-29 have served the nation in the recent past. Indigenous Tejas fighter aircraft joined the IAF in 2016 in the 'Flying Diggers'' Squadron. Gnat aircraft won the 1971 war for India and the bombing of the Governor House in Dhaka proved to be an important turning point in formation of Bangladesh. Today, IAF has state-of-the-art surface to Air Missiles, Radar and Communication Systems, Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS), Air to Air refuelers and Unmanned Arial Vehicles (UAVs), which strengthen the Air defence. The lethal armament and payload in the arsenal of IAF is potent enough to destroy a variety of targets. Transport aircraft such as C-130, IL 76, C-17, AVRO and AN-32 ensure that various operations, troop movements and logistics supports are possible in difficult terrains and at the correct time. Helicopters, be it Cheetah, Chetak, attack helicopters MI-V, MI-8 and MI-17 carry out the assigned goals in war and peace time as also in disaster relief operations. Pilatus, Hawk and trainer versions of other fighter aircrafts ensure that the men behind the machines, the fearless pilots of IAF are always trained for virtually every type of mission.
IAF also has a highly potent special force in the form of Garud Commandos who had taken the punch out of the Pathankot attack in January this year. Aerobatic display team Suryakiran consisting of Hawk Aircraft, Helicopter Aerobatic team Sarang consisting of Dhruv helicopters, Air Warrior Drill Team, Air Force Symphony Band have all awed people all around the globe with their professionalism and skills. Whether it is medicine, education, meteorology, maintenance, sports, adventure sports, music, arts, literary fields, corporate social responsibility, environment protection, quizzing, you name it, IAF personnel have proved their mettle while serving and even after leaving service. The will to excel and a determination to achieve the unthinkable has been the hallmark of air warriors.
Women have broken the proverbial glass ceiling in IAF. Air Marshal Padmavathy Bandopadhyay was the first lady to become an Air Marshal in IAF. While women officers have been serving IAF in all branches including maintenance and transport Aircraft, this year saw three women officers getting into the fighter stream as well.
From the Khaki uniform that the Indian Air Force took pride in to the current Blue, Air Warriors of the IAF have shown consistently why the country depends on them in times of crisis. As the IAF turns a new leaf in its journey, it has formidable challenges to overcome and has a greater role to play as an aerospace power.
MIAF Arjan Singh – First Marshal of Indian Air Force.
AVM Harjinder Singh - Air Vice Marshal Harjinder Singh had joined the IAF as a HawaiSepoy, He was one of the first to join IAF on its formation and rose to the rank of Air Vice Marshal to command the Maintenance Command of IAF.
Air Marshal Subroto Mukherjee – First Chief of Air Staff of Indian Air Force.Subroto Cup Football Tournament and Air Marshal Subroto Mukherjee Memorial Chess Tournament named after Air Marshal Subroto Mukherjee.
Flying Officer Nirmaljeet Singh Sekhon – He is the only member of the Indian Air Force to be honoured with ParamVir Chakra (Posthumously).
Squadron Leader Rakesh Sharma – First Indian to travel in space.
Wing Commander Sanjay Thapar - The first Indian to skydive to North Pole on 21st April, 1996.