This Day in History (8-Oct-1932) – The Indian Air Force comes into being

The Indian Air Force was established on 8 October 1932. During World War II, IAF personnel were awarded 22 Distinguished Flying Crosses for their achievements. Between 1945 and 1950 it was called the Royal Indian Air Force. In 1947 war with Pakistan, the Royal Indian Air Force provided air support to Indian troops and helped in transport. After India became a republic in 1950, the prefix ‘Royal’ was dropped, and it began to be known as the Indian Air Force (IAF). The President of India is the ex-officio commander-in-chief of the IAF.  The IAF’s English Electric Canberra played a major role in a United Nations operation in Congo in the early 1960s. In 1961, to drive out the Portuguese from Goa, and Daman and Diu, IAF played a major role.  India’s unwillingness to use its air force against Chinese forces in the 1962 war is regarded by some military experts as one of the reasons why India suffered serious losses in the conflict.

In the 1965 India-Pakistan war, the IAF raided Pakistani bases, but also lost many aircraft, most of the losses taking place during battles over Kalaikunda and Pathankot. In the 1971 Bangladesh ‘War of Liberation’, on the western front, the IAF’s tasks included disruption of enemy communications, destroying fuel and ammunition reserves, and stopping mobilisation of Pakistani ground troops. On the Eastern front, the IAF’s main goal was to support Indian forces on the ground. The IAF received its first and only Param Vir Chakra, India’s highest military decoration, during the 1971 war, posthumously awarded to Flying Officer Nirmal Jit Singh Sekhon of the No. 18 Squadron.

In 1987, around 70,000 sorties were flown by the IAF to support the Indian Peace Keeping Force troops in Sri Lanka. On 3 November 1988, the IAF dropped Indian paratroopers in the Maldives after the Maldivian president sought Indian help to stop a mercenary invasion in his country. The Indian military operation was swift and successful. In the 1999 Kargil conflict, the Indian Air Force targeted Pakistani intruder positions using aircraft and helicopter gunships.  IAF participated in the UN peace keeping mission at Sierra Leone, Africa in year 2000. The IAF also helps in providing relief during disasters such as floods.



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