The air arm of the Indian Armed Forces, the Indian Air Force stands tall at the 4th amongst the best air forces of the world. The journey to date has not been exactly sublime. Established on 8th October 1932 and cherished as the Indian Air Force Day every year, was initially an auxiliary air force of the British crown, serving in the Second World War. However, post-independence, the name ‘Royal Indian Air Force’ was kept and served in the name of the Dominion of India. The prefix Royal was initially removed after India adopted its constitution in 1950.
The structural solidity and comradery within the institution have taken a lot of time to ferment. Beginning from the second world war when the IAF played a pivotal role in halting the advance of the Japanese army in Burma, to administering the Congo Crisis and Annexation of Goa during 1960-61 and significant border disputes thereafter, the Indian Air Force has always witnessed exponential growth, both in terms of power and prowess. The Indian Air Force, during its instatement as Republic, possessed six fighter squadrons of Spitfires, Vampires, and Tempests, operating from Kanpur, Poona, Ambala, and Palam, one B-24 bomber squadron, one C-47 Dakota transport squadron, one AOP flight, a communications squadron at Palam and a growing the organization. However, now, the Indian Air Force accounts for almost 1750 aircraft and 170,000 personnel serving in the nation’s interests. Moreover, The IAF has not only restricted itself in engaging in hostile activities but also pushed its envelope beyond inter-border disputes and has participated in United Nations peacekeeping missions for which it has received huge acclaim.
The Indian Air Force, with its multi-lateral expansion and variable activities, is divided into five operational and two functional commands. Each Command is headed by an Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief with the rank of Air Marshal. The operational commands envisage the purpose of conducting military operations whereas the functional commands are responsible in maintaining combat readiness. Inquest for maintaining combat readiness, the Air Force is flush with training schools and institutions. Along with the Training Command at Bangalore, the primary training is carried out at the Air Force Academy in Hyderabad, followed by the subsequent training at various other schools.
The inventory of Air Craft inventory is as extravagant as the officers the IAF possesses. The IAF’s inventory is dominated by Russian equipment along with US and Indian-origin jets. The inventory cherishes many famed jets like Dassault Rafale, Sukhoi Su-30MKI, Mikoyan MiG-29, Dassault Mirage 2000, HAL Tejas, SEPECAT Jaguar, and Mikoyan-Gurevich Mig-21 along with several aerial refueling, transport carrier aircraft. Trainer aircraft and helicopters under its belt.
The Indian Air Force has surely come a long way since its inception and is still in its upright trajectory, upwards and onwards!