With the motto of “नभः स्पृशं दीप्तम्” which translates as “Touch the Sky with Glory” inspiring the Indian Air Force, there is no stopping their flights in the free skies. Locally known as Bharatiya Vayu Sena, Indian Air Force is one of the leading forces of Indian Defense Services which takes care of securing the Indian airspace besides actively participating in aerial combats when need arises. Formed in 1932 as an auxiliary air force for the British Empire, today it has come a long way to be ranked as the fourth best operational air force in the world.
Let us have a look at 7 mind-blowing facts about Indian Air Force.
The first major war fought by IAF was not for India, but for the allies who were trying to stop the strong axis power. Indian Air Force, known back then an auxiliary of Royal Air Force of Britain, played a crucial role in WWII by blocking the advancing Japanese army in Burma, in addition to carrying out air strikes against Japan in Thailand. It was during this crucial period that Indian Air Force expanded and acquired new war aircrafts.
The high adaptation capability of Indian Air Force was proven in the demanding Kargil War where the enemies were positioned at the elevations of 14,000 to 18,000 feet in the snow filled Himalayan region. The support lent by the Indian Air Force to the ground forces, named Safed Sagar is praise worthy; though, it did expose the limitations of Indian defense in certain regions.
We can proudly say that Indian Air Force has so far shot down just one air craft in its whole history during peacetime. The incident took place a month after the Kargil War when Indian Air Force identified a Pakistan aircraft approaching the international border, and shot down Pakistan Navy’s Naval Air Arm Breguet Atlantique patrol plane, killing all 16 people on board.. This is the only incident when the IAF has shot down any aircraft that was not a fighter aircraft and caused casualties other than combat kills.
Following the 1965 war, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited increased the formidability of IAF by supplying 72 HS 748s and other fighter aircrafts. Today, HAL is considered the largest aerospace company in Asia with an annual turnover of more than 2 billion US dollars and also it is currently the largest defense firm in public sector. The company also boasts of building the first ever military aircraft in south Asia and also manufacturing HF-24 Marut, the first fighter bomber made in India.
The Indian Air Force has a Special Forces unit known as ‘The Garud Commando Force’ which was formed in 2004. The Counter Insurgency (COIN) Operations and Emergency unit was formed by the IAF in response to terror-threats to airfields by terrorists across the border. Today the Garud Commando Force has nearly 2000 specially trained personnel, who protect critical Air force bases, conduct search and rescue operations, helps disaster reliefs and many more. With the motto of Gun, Guts and Glory inspiring them, today the special unit is touching the sky with glory.
Indian Air Force has replaced the old communication with its own fully secure and reliable network and gigabyte digital information grid using modern tropo-scatter technology, popularly known as AFnet in 2010. The amazing revolution in the field of communication will be followed by the army and navy in future.
The IAF started off by H. C. Sircar, Subroto Mukerjee, Bhupendra Singh, A. B. Awan and Amarjeet Singh being commissioned as ‘Pilot Officers’. Today Indian Air Force stands as one of the most powerful air forces of the world and has a strength of 127,000 active personnel, more than 1,370 aircraft in active service, including around 700 fighters, 7 aerial refueling tanker aircrafts, 133 transport aircrafts, 158 trainer aircrafts, 33 attack helicopters, 156 transport helicopters, 155 utility helicopters, about 200 UAVs. The growth of Indian Air Force is amazing without doubt.