The Indian Air Force (IAF) is the air arm of the Indian Armed Forces. The personnel and aircraft assets it possesses make it rank fourth among all the air forces in the world. The primary mission of it is to secure Indian airspace and conduct aerial warfare during armed battles. This day was officially established on 8th October 1932 as an auxiliary air force of the British empire. This honored India’s aviation service during the Second World War with the title of Royal. India gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1947. However, it did not renounce the title. It kept the name Royal Indian Air Force and served in the name of Dominion of India. But with the government’s transition to a republic in 1950, the prefix Royal was removed.
Since 1950, the IAF was involved in four major wars with its neighbor Pakistan. Other major operations which the IAF undertook are Operation Vijay, Operation Meghdoot, Operation Cactus, and Operation Poomalai. The mission of this force expands beyond engagement with hostile forces. The IAF also participates in United Nations peacekeeping missions.
The President of India holds the rank of Supreme Commander of the IAF. Since the 1st of July 2017, about 1,39,576 personnel are in service with the IAF. The Chief of the Air Staff is an air chief marshal. He is also a four-star officer and he is also responsible for the bulk of operational command of the Air Force. There is never more than one air chief marshal at any given time in the Indian Air Force. The President of India placed Arjan Singh in the rank of Marshal of Air Force on one occasion in history. On 26th January 2002, Singh became the first and so far, an only five-star rank officer of the IAF.
The mission of the IAF is defined by the Armed Forces Act of 1947, the Air Forces Act of 1950, and the Constitution of India. It issued a decree. According to it, “Defense of India and every part thereof including preparation for defense and all such acts as may be conducive in times of war to its prosecution and after its termination to effective demobilization.”
In practice, this means that the IAF bears all the responsibility of Indian airspace. It also means that the IAF will be further involved in the national interests in conjunction with the other branches of the armed forces. The Indian Air Force also provides close air support to the Indian Army troops on the battlefield and strategic along with tactical airlift capabilities. The Indian Armed Forces, the Indian Space Research Organization, and the civilian Department of Space operate the Integrated Space Cell. The IAF can provide rapid response to evacuation, search and rescue (SAR) operations. It can also provide relief supplies to the affected areas via cargo aircraft. Hence, this day is celebrated to honor and recognize the selfless efforts of our jawans and the entire force.