The Indian Airforce completes 86 years and since its beginning, it has come a long way through many wars and operations protecting the nation since its independence.
The Indian Air Force completes 86 years of service to the nation on October 8, and in this time, has secured and protected India’s borders on numerous occasions, with brave soldiers never once caring for their own lives.
While bravery and valor cannot be measured or timed, here are some instances of the IAF helping write history as we know it.
The first Indo-Pak war - 1947
India paid a heavy price for her independence – the partition. What followed were regular skirmishes, and four wars with neighbouring Pakistan – 1947, 1965, 1971 and 1999.
The 1947 war was the first test for independent India’s armed forces, and the army and the air force together pushed the enemy back to win the war.
Liberation of Goa - 1961
In December 1961, the army, navy and air force liberated Goa, Daman, and Diu from Portuguese rule in an action that lasted three days.
After independence, India asked Goa to be integrated, but the Portuguese didn’t agree. Then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru escalated the issue to the UN but nothing came of it.
The air force, in December, launched an offensive, bombing the radio station at Bambolim and at the airport at Dabolim. The attack was led by Air Marshall A Pinto Do Rosario. On December 19, the Indian flag was hoisted in Goa.
Indo-Pak war - 1965
The year 1965 saw Pakistan’s second attempt to invade Jammu and Kashmir. The IAF used 176 aircraft to fend off the attack from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).
The war initiated with Pakistan Air Force attacking IAF’s three radio stations in the northern region.
Liberation of East Pakistan - 1971
The Bangladesh liberation war lasted from December 2 to 16, 1971. The three armed forces approached targeted from land, sea, and air to liberate Bangladesh. The air force shot down 94 aircraft of the Pakistan air force, and the IAF’s fighter aircraft MiG-21 shot to prominence for the role it played in the war.
On the western side, the Pakistani army had entered Longelwala, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. By then due to the desert terrain, the Indian army couldn’t fight the numbers of enemy tanks alone. It was because most of the Indian forces were deployed on the eastern side.
On December 5 & 6, IAF continuously hit the targets as there was no aerial opposition. By the end of December 6, the land of Longewala had become a graveyard of Pakistan’s troops. Out of 40, 37 tanks with all the infantry equipment of the enemy were destroyed by a small fleet of IAF’s aircraft.
Operation Meghdoot - 1983
Siachen, at a height of 5,400 meters above sea level, is a critical battlefield. The IAF has, since the occupation of the glacier, played a crucial role in transporting supplies and men with its Chetak and Cheetah helicopters.
The Kargil war – 1999
The IAF played a crucial role in the 1999 Kargil war, deploying Jaguar, Mirage 2000, MiG 21s, MiG 23s, and MiG 27 aircraft. The air fleet bombed several ground bases. Due to enemy attacks, the attack pattern was changed, and the IAF deployed the weapon between 26,000 and 32,000 feet.
At such heights, the atmospheric density is low and reduces the potential ballistic of missiles.
Besides the war operation, IAF has also rescued many lives in rescue operations such as the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, 2005 Kashmir earthquake, 2008 cyclone Nargis, 2013 Uttarakhand floods (Operation Rahat), 2015 Nepal Earthquake (Operation Maitri) and thi year's Kerala flood rescue.
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