Air Force Day 2019: From Bangladesh Liberation War to Balakot Airstrikes, List of Major IAF Operations in Post-Independence India
IAF Fighter Jets 9Photo Credits: IANS)

The Indian Air Force (IAF) was established on October 8, 1932. This year, the IAF  is celebrating its 87th founding day. The IAF is the fourth most powerful air force in the world behind the United States, Russia and China. Currently, there are close to two lakh personnel serving in the IAF. The four-star officer with the rank of Air Chief Marshal leads the force, while Marshal of the Indian Air Force (MIAF) rank is an honorary five-star rank conferred by President of India for exceptional service during a war. Air Force Day 2019: Facts to Know About the IAF on Its 87th Founding Day.

Air Marshal Subroto Mukherjee was the first Chief of Air Staff of the IAF. Flying Officer Nirmal Jit Singh Sekhon was the first and only Indian Air Force officer to have received the Param Veer Chakra posthumously for his bravery during the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war. According to Flight International, there to be around 1,721 aircraft in service with the IAF. After independence, the force took part in various wars and conflicts except for the 1962 Indo-Sino war where the IAF was not used to suppress the Chinese aggression. Indian Air Force to Deploy Latest American Weapon Systems for Ex-HimVijay Along China Border.

Here Are Major Operations Carried Out By The IAF After Independence:

Congo Crisis: After Belgium's 75-year rule over Congo ended abruptly, the widespread violence and rebellion engulfed the nation. The IAF activated No. 5 Squadron, equipped with English Electric Canberra, to support the United Nations Operation in the Congo.

Annexation of Goa: In 1961, the Indian Indian government decided to attack the Portuguese colony of Goa after years of disagreement between New Delhi and Lisbon. The IAF provided support elements to the ground force in what was called Operation Vijay. The IAF’s Canberra bombers also bombed the runway of Dabolim airfield taking care not to bomb the Terminals and the ATC tower.

Indo-Pak war 1965: The IAF was pressed into the action in response to Pakistan’s Operation Gibraltar in Jammu and Kashmir. The IAF carried out independent raids against PAF bases inside Pakistan Territory. The small and nimble IAF Folland Gnats proved effective against the F-86 Sabres of the PAF.

Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971: The PAF carried out preemptive strikes against IAF installations in Srinagar, Ambala, Sirsa, Halwara and Jodhpur, after which India formally declared the war. Within the first two weeks, the IAF had carried out almost 12,000 sorties over East Pakistan and also provided close air support to the advancing Indian Army. On the western front, the IAF destroyed more than 20 Pakistani tanks, four APCs and a supply train during the Battle of Longewala. The IAF also carried out raids on oil installations in Karachi, the Mangla Dam and a gas plant in Sindh.

Operation Meghdoot: In 1984, India launched Operation Meghdoot to capture the Siachen Glacier in the contested Kashmir region. In Operation Meghdoot, IAF's Mi-8, Chetak and Cheetah helicopters airlifted hundreds of Indian troops to Siachen.

Operation Pawan:  In 1987, the IAF supported the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in northern and eastern Sri Lanka in Operation Pawan. About 70,000 sorties were flown by the IAF's transport and helicopter force in support of nearly 1,00,000 troops and paramilitary forces without a single aircraft lost or mission aborted.

Operation Safed Sagar: On May 11, 1999, the Indian Air Force was called in to provide close air support to the Indian Army during the Kargil war. The initial strikes had the Air Defence versions of the MiG-21s and MiG-29s providing fighter cover. Mi-17 gunships were also deployed in the Tololing sector. The IAF also used Mirage-2000s and Mig-25R during the operation.

Balakot Airstrikes: The IAF destroyed Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror camps in Pakistan’s Balakot on February 26 to avenge the Pulwama attack. Twelve Mirages took off from multiple air bases India and crossed over into the Pakistani air space to attack the JeM terrorist camp in Balakot town of Khyber Pakhtunwa province. The IAF code-named it 'Operation Bandar (Monkey)' to maintain secrecy. Indian Air Force to Receive Balakot Air Strike-Fame Spice-2000 Bomb From Israel by September.

This year the Air Force Day celebrations will be held with a spectacular air show at the Hindon Air Force Station in Ghaziabad. Newly inducted Apache and Chinook helicopters will be showcased along with Su-30MKIs during the celebrations. On the occasion of the Air Force Day, India will also take the delivery of the first of the 36 Rafale jet from France.