15 Things You Should Know About The IAF

- October 6, 2020


Illustration: Samhita Sonti

By Samyukhtha Sunil

The Indian Air Force was officially established on October 8th, 1932, by the British Empire. Post-Independence, it was renamed as the Royal Indian Air Force and the Royal prefix was removed after India became a republic in 1950. Air Force Day is celebrated every year on October 8th to commemorate the warriors who put their lives and safety on the line every single day to protect the people of this nation. A spectacular aerial show is conducted at the Hindon Airbase, which starts with flag-bearing skydivers appearing out of the clouds sporting colourful canopies. As we celebrate India’s 88th Air Force Day this year, here are some interesting facts about our guardians in the sky.

  • Following the U.S., Russia and China, the Indian Airforce is the fourth-largest and seventh-most powerful in the world in terms of military capability. The entire division comprises over 1,70,000 personnel and 1,500 aircraft.
  • With over 60 airbases across the country, the IAF’s Hindon base situated in Ghaziabad is the largest in Asia and the seventh-largest in the world!
  • The highest air force station in India is situated in the Himalayas, all the way up at the Siachen glacier at a whopping height of 22,000 feet above sea level.
  • In the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971, the IAF managed to take out 79 Pakistani tanks and a train!
  • The air force has set a world record for accomplishing the highest landing on Ladakh at a height of 16604 ft above sea level.
  • The IAF is the only airforce in the world that operates the C-17 Globemaster III, C-130J Super Hercules, and Il-76, three of the world’s largest transport aircrafts in existence.
  • Hindustan Aeronautics Limited developed the Tejas for the Indian Air Force. It was the second supersonic light combat aircraft that they came out with after the HAL HF-24 Marut.
  • In an unimaginable act of bravery, the IAF airlifted hundreds of Indian troops from the Siachen glacier during Operation Meghdoot in 1984.
  • The IAF set an incredible world record while rescuing 20,000 civilians during the Uttarakhand flash floods under Mission Raahat.
  • As most of Northern Kerala was cut off from the rest of the country during the 2018 flash floods, it was the IAF that rescued and airlifted hundreds of people and dropped off 300 kg of food and relief materials.
  • Air Marshal Arjan Singh is the first and only Indian Airforce officer with a 5-star rank.
  • Flying officer Nirmal Jit Singh Sekhon was the first and the only IAF officer to be honoured with the Param Vir Chakra for his bravery in the Indo-Pak war of 1971.
  • Air Marshal Padmavathy Bandopadhyay is the only female IAF officer to be promoted to the 3-star rank.
  • The IAF has over 300 female fighter pilots serving currently.
  • The IAF has only one airbase in a foreign country, all the way in Tajikistan.

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