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Indian Air Force
The Indian Air Force is the air corps of the Indian military forces. The foremost purpose of the Indian Air Force is to protect Indian airspace and participate in aerial warfare when necessary. The IAF’s mission statement is defined as “Defence of India and every part thereof including preparation for defence and all such acts as may be conducive in times of war to its prosecution and after its termination to effective demobilisation.”
The IAF was legitimately created on the 8th of October 1932 as supplementary air force of the Indian Empire. When India gained independence from the British Crown in 1947, the Indian Air Force began serving the Republic of India. For a short while, the IAF had the prefix ‘Royal’ in acknowledgment of its services during World War II. However, it was soon dropped after India became a republic in 1950. The IAF has been involved in four wars with its neighbor and quite often adversary, Pakistan. The IAF also engaged in a brief struggle against the People’s Republic of China. The Indian Air Force has undertaken various operations; some major ones include Operation Vijay, Operation Meghdot and Operation Cactus. The IAF is also an active contributor to the United Nations peacekeeping efforts.
The Indian Air Force currently boasts approximately 170,000 personnel; including its 1,322 aircraft, the Indian Air Force is the 4th strongest aerial force. The aircraft include 680 combat aircraft and 305 helicopters. Most of these combat aircrafts are 797 fighter jets of Soviet origin. These include the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21, Mikoyan MiG-27, Mikoyan MiG-29 as well as the Sukhoi Su-30MKI. Added to these are the Anglo-FrenchSEPECAT Jaguar and French Mirage 2000 aircraft. The majority of these aircraft were acquired in the 60’s and 70’s. Therefore, they have nearly become obsolete and their replacement has become a very crucial task for the Indian Air Force.
The Indian Air Force began modernizing and improving it’s aging and out-of-date equipment since the late 90’s. For that cause, the IAF has started acquiring and developing aircraft, artillery, associated technologies, and infrastructures. Several of these programs date back to the late 80’s.
The Indian Air Force also plans to induct 126 fighter jets at the cost of US$12 billion. This is under the MRCA program. The MRCA, also known as The Indian Air Force Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft Competition, is an ongoing competition to provide the IAF with 126 multi-role warfare jets.
There have been 6 aircrafts that were bid in this contract, a deal that is known as India’s largest defense deal ever. These six include: Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, the Dassault Rafale, the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Lockheed Martin F-16IN Super Viper, the Mikoyan MiG-35, and the Saab Gripen NG. The IAF is reported to have completed evaluation of the six fighter jets. The report also details that the Rafale and the Typhoon have entered the final stage before being inducted.
Like most countries, the President serves as the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. The current President of India is Devisingh Patel, who is also the first woman to serve in office. The commander of the Air Force is the Chief of the Air Staff. The current commander is Air Chief Marshall Pradeep Vasant Naik.
The Indian Air Force also supplies support in calamity relief such as natural disasters by undertaking various duties. These duties include evacuation, search-and-rescue operations and air dropping relief supplies in affected areas. The IAF provided extensive assistance to relief operations during natural calamities such as the Gujarat cyclone in 1998 and the Tsunami in 2004. The Indian Air Force also provides assistance to other countries during relief activities such as Operation Rainbow in Sri Lanka.