• History

    History is the study of the past, it relates to past events as well as the memory, discovery, collection, organization, presentation, and interpretation of information about these events. History is about the truth, and it is about recording events and memories before they are consigned to be forgotten. Presented here in these sections is the History of the Indian Air Force. The unvarnished, un-revised version that is independent of jingoism and ultra-nationalism. 

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    • The Pioneers of Flight

      Before the Indian Air Force was established in 1932, a group of Indian aviators marked their presence during the first world war.  

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    • Birth of an Air Force

      The Indian Air Force's History precedes World War Two by eight years. The IAF was established by on 8 Oct 1932 when its formation was announced in the Gazette of India. No.1 Squadron formed at Drigh Road in Karachi on 1 April 1933 with a complement of six Indian Officers under the command of a British Officer. The pages in this section showcase the initial years of the existence of the IAF.

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    • The Royal Indian Air Force in the Second World War

      AudaxK3102 SmallThe Internet's best resource on the Indian Air Force in the Second World War. Read about veteran storiess, units, database research tools and the hundreds of photographs and images from that era!

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      • Veterans Project - Interviews, Profiles and Memoirs

        The WW2 Veterans Project : WWII Veteran Encounters, Profiles and Memoirs started off in earnest in 2002 when between a small group of like minded enthusiasts, an effort was made to locate and interview WW2 veterans of the Indian Air Force.  With the dwindling number of veterans every passing year, the effort continues in terms of family members writing profiles of their loved ones who took part in the war - and in keeping their memories alive.

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    • The 1947-48 Jammu & Kashmir Operations

      The first test for the Independent Royal Indian Air Force came within months of August 15. The Operations of the 47-48 War were unique in the sense that this was the first time Transport aircraft of the IAF saw full time deployment in operations. Fighter squadrons also gained exposure and experience of operating in mountainous environment.

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    • Jets and Growth 1948-64

      Spit AmbConv SmallThe fifties saw the modernisation of the IAF. Coming out of the decade that saw the world war, the advent of new technology like JETS, the complete Indianisation of its officer corps, expansion of its infrastructure, all ensured that it was a hectic and busy period till the next decade which was filled with conflict all over again. 

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    • Liberation of Goa 1961

      In December 1961, the Republic of India undertook military action to evict the Portugese rulers out of the enclaves of Goa, Diu and Daman. This involved tri-service operations with the Army, Navy and the Air Force acting against the Portugese troops. The "war" was over in three days- resulting in the liberation of the Portugese enclaves. It also bought in a diplomatic freeze between the two nations which thawed only in 1974.

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    • The Indian Air Force in Congo

      Canberras in the CongoMuch before the IAF was involved in the conflict against the sub-continental rivals in the 60s, its first taste of action came in far away Africa, as part of a United Nations Force in Congo.  

      Also read The Congo Diary - Flt Lt Charanjit Singh  >Story from the eyes of another pilot from the first detachment.

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    • The Indo-China War 1962

      The 1962 India-China War

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    • The India-Pakistan War 1965

      The Bharat-Rakshak site salutes the air veterans of the 1965 India-Pakistan War. We will be featuring articles and stories in the war including excerpts from the book "India-Pakistan Air War of 1965" over the coming months to commemorate the 50th year anniversary of the conflict.

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    • War and Peace - 1962 -71

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    • The Bangladesh War 1971

      Boyra-DM.jpg (40615 bytes)

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    • The Last Quarter: 1972-99

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    • The Siachen Glacier

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    • The Sri Lankan Interlude 1987-90

      The Indian involvement in Sri Lanka saw the largest air effort by the Indian Air Force in air maintenance and counter insurgency support amounting to 70,000 sorties by Transport, Helicopter and fighter aircraft without a single loss to hostile fire. We try to narrate the role of the IAF in Sri Lanka in the following Chapters. Please check out the Army Operations of the IPKF in our LAND-FORCES website to get a better idea of the Indian Army's role

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    • Kargil War 1999

      Early in May 1999, the Indian Army discovered large scale infilitration by Pakistani soldiers across the LOC in the Indian territory in the desolate Kargil sector. The operations to evict the mountain tops of the Pakistani army has now etched itself in living memory as 'Operation Vijay'. The Indian Air Force provided Battlefield close support , logistical supply and Casuality evacuation along with the Army Aviation Units. Three Officers and two airmen made the ultimate sacrifice. For its role in the ops, the IAF was awarded two Vir Chakras and 23 Vayusena Medals.

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    • The New Millenium

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  • IAF Today

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  • Units

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    • Commands

      The IAF currently has five operational commands, each of which is headed by an AOC-in-C (Air Officer Commander-in-Chief) with the rank of Air Marshal. The IAF also has two additional commands - Training Command and Maintenance Command - to maintain a uniform standard in training and maintenance. Air Headquarters is located at New Delhi is commanded by the Chief of Air Staff. AirHQ controls all the administrative functions of the IAF and exercises control over the Commands.

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    • Bases (Wings, FBSUs, AFSs)

      Indian Air Force Air Bases can be categorised into various types - Operational Units like Wings, Forward Base Support Units, Care & Maintenance Units. None Operational Units consist of "Air Force Stations" , Base Repair Depots and various others.

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    • Squadrons & HUs

      The first Indian Air Force unit raised was No.1 Squadron, Indian Air Force on 1st April 1933. Since then a number of Squadrons, Flights and Units were raised spanning the number range 1-224.  With the exception of a few SA-2 Squadrons raised in the mid 60s, all other  Squadrons operated either fixed wing aircraft or helicopters. A listing of all IAF flying units raised can be accessed at Indian Air Force Squadrons , Flights and Helicopter Units

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    • Institutions

      Various training and operational establishments that are not Squadrons. Training Establishments include Flying, Technical, Administrative, Medical. Other Institutions like the DASI, AEB etc will also be covered in this section.
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    • Others

      This section contains the various listings - Aircraft Fleet Strength, List of Missile Squadrons, Radar Units, Equipment Depots and various other OrBAT information that do not fall in any of the above sections.
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  • Aircraft

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    • Aircraft Data Pages

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    • Retired Aircraft Histories

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      • The English Electric Canberra History Project

        First, let me introduce myself – my name is Anandeep Pannu. I am an IAF brat, my father is Gp Capt HMPS Pannu who left the IAF in 1986 after a 29 year career. He didnt fly the Canberra (not officially anyway) – but I grew up around them, especially during my stint at Pune when 35 Sqn and 6 Sqn (which was my father’s squadron) had Canberras.   I work for Microsoft now and am an aviation fanatic. I have a pilots license and have about 300 hrs time mostly in light aircraft and gliders.

        The idea for a Canberra book came to me after I realized that the Canberra was going to be celebrating 50 years in Indian Air Force service. Wing Co Marshall, dad’s instructor in FIS and father of my friend Karl was putting together a get together in Pune. I was able to talk to Wing Co Marshall and that gave further impetus to the project.

        Jagan Pillariseti (of Bharat Rakshak and 1965 Air War book fame) had already collected quite a few stories on the Canberra, and since we exchange notes on a regular basis we started bandying the idea of the book back and forth. In the meantime the IAF top brass decided to celebrate the 50 year anniversary in style. Wing Co Thomas also started the Canberra India newsgroup which collected a bunch of Canberra veterans in one venue – albeit a cyberspace one! 

        It was a foregone conclusion that I would need to drag Jagan into the project – his resourcefulness and knowledge would be needed for this book.

        Wing Co Thomas and Wing Co Vineet Bhalla were kind enough to share some stories and Jagan interviewed Wing Co Nath, MVC and bar, for a related book project. The pieces were coming together!

        I was able to find a number of references on the Canberra and make contact with some Canberra experts including Les Bywater of the Canberra Tribute Web site. These people were able to refer me to some previously unpublished photographs. (Some of these are in the article on “Canberra marks” on Bharat Rakshak).

        I still need help from IAF Canberra veterans. Please bookmark this blog – and contact me with any stories, comments or just contact me regardless, if you were ever associated with the Canberra in the IAF.

        I will be posting questionaires and articles on this blog for your comment. Please feel free to send me e-mail or write your comments on any article in this blog – it is open to everyone.

        Hopefully this will be enjoyable process for all us!

        Thanks

        Anandeep Pannu

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    • Current Aircraft Articles

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    • Census

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    • Miscellenous

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  • Galleries

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  • Awards

    Even before the Indian Air Force was formed, Indian Aviators like Indra Lal Roy and S Welingkar made their mark in the Royal Flying Corps and the later Royal Air Force, The British Empire even honoured these pioneer Aviators with the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Military Cross.

    Right from the year 1933 to the advent of Indpendence, All the IAF members were eligible for the British system of Honours and Awards, They were eligible like their counterparts of the IAF to be awarded the VC, DSO, DFC and other awards as might have been appropriate,

    After Independence, India constituted its own Gallantry awards when it turned a Republic in 1950.Following the British pattern of awards, the Indian system incorporated a three-tier system.Foremost in precedence the Param Vir Chakra, followed by the Maha Vir Chakra and the Vir Chakra, all given for gallantry on the battlefield.

    At the same time, there were the Awards granted for bravery and courage away from the battle front, The Ashoka Chakra, Kirti Chakra and the Shaurya Chakra, These awards can be made to any member of the armed forces as well as civilians in the war effort or during peacetime.A Seperate range of decorations were instituted for Service and Leadership during wartime, These were the Vishist Seva Medals which were also awarded during peacetime for distinguished service, to remove confusion between both, In 1981, the Yudh Seva Medals were instituted.

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    • Pre Independence

      Even before the Indian Air Force was born, Indian flyers had shown their mettle in First World War and were duly recognised with awards of 1 DFC and 1 MC. It was only natural that more laurels followed whenever Indian aircrew saw action in other conflicts.

      The Royal Indian Air Force flew operations against the tribals of North Western Frontier Province in the late 30s followed by four years of continuous action on the Burma front against Japan. Some of its aircrew were deputed to the RAF and saw action in Europe, North Africa and elsewhere. Their contributions were amply recognised and several members received gallantry and service awards from the British.

      By 1947, the fledgling Indian Air Force had received one DSO ,24 DFCs and 2 AFCs for its part in helping the allied war effort against the Axis powers.

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    • Gallantry Awards (War)

      When India became a republic, India constituted its own Gallantry Award for bravery in Combat. Foremost was the Param Vir Chakra, followed in precedence by the Maha Vir Chakra and the Vir Chakra.

      The Indian Air Force also awards the Vayusena Medal (VM) for acts of bravery and service during war time wherever it seems the award of the VrC is not justifiable.

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    • Gallantry Awards (Peace)

      The Indian Peacetime Gallantry Awards were constituted on similar lines of the British Awards of the George Cross. These awards comprised the Ashoka Chakra, The Kirti Chakra and the Shaurya Chakra. All the three awards are given for showing conspicuous gallantry or bravery but away from the Battlefield. In effect, these awards were given for counter insurgency operations, and other situations where the awardee is not necessarily in the Field of the Battle.

      Initially the three awards were known as the Ashoka Chakra Class 1, Ashoka Chakra Class II and Ashoka Chakra Class III. After 1967 they were renamed as the current Ashoka, Kirti and Shaurya Chakras.

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    • Service Awards

      Though the Gallantry awards were instituted as early as 1950, The need to have decorations that would be a recognition to service rendered was felt by the end of the fifties. Accordingly in 1960, The Vishist Seva Medals (Special Service Medals) were instituted for exceptional service and leadership rendered in the armed forces. The awards were classifed into three classes, named the VSM Class 1, VSM Class 2 and the VSM Class 3.

      In 1967 they were renamed the Param Vishist Seva Medal (PVSM), Ati Vishist Seva Medal (AVSM) and the Visisht Seva Medal (VSM). These awards were given in recognition to service rendered in administrative or operational capacities during peacetime. Unlike the Gallantry Awards which were awarded in most cases for specific incidents of gallantry, the Service awards cannot be given for individual and specific incidents. They can be given more in line with countinous and sustained effort in their service.

      The VSM medals were awarded to commanders in the battle field as well as the top administrative and staff officers away from the battle field for service during wartime. Since there was no way to distinguish between the peacetime awards and the wartime awards, In 1980, The Yudh Seva Medals were constituted. The Sarvottam Yudh Seva Medal (SYSM) being the topmost in precedence, followed by the Uttam Yudh Seva Medal (UYSM) and finally the Yudh Seva Medal (YSM). Unlike the Vishist Seva Medal which was lower in precedence than the Sena/Vayu Sena/Nao Sena Medal, the Yudh Seva Medal was higher in precedence than the VM.

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  • Personnel

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    • Chiefs of Air Staff

      TitleAcknowledgments: Bharat Rakshak expresses its gratitude for the help received from various quarters in the making of this particular section. Namely retired Air Chiefs - Denis La Fontaine, Idris H. Latif, S.K. Mehra, S.K. Sareen and other individuals who came forward to contribute like David Fell, Pradeep Mehra, Hugh Halliday and Ekalavya. Bharat Rakshak also acknowledges the Indian Air Force's direct help from Vayu Bhavan and indirect help in the form of its year books, Air Marshal (retd.) M.S. Chaturvedi's 'History of Indian Air Force' and other published sources

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    • Legends

      -This section offers biographical information on those officers whose actions have made a lasting impact on the Indian Air Force (IAF). In addition to their own distinguished service records, each person listed has contributed to making the IAF the professional force that is. This list is by no means complete and we intend to add to this, in the days to come.Note: This section does not include those officers who became Chiefs of Air Staff

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    • Roll of Honour

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      During the Second World War and the events leading upto Independence, 202 Officers and 565 Other Ranks of the Undivided Royal Indian Air Force died in service. Their sacrifices are commemorated by the Commonwealth War Grave Commission through special memorials and cemeteries maintained all around the globe. In India, These memorials are at Karachi, Delhi and at Bangladesh. The cemeteries are also spread out and maintained at many places throughout the Sub-Continent. The Roll of Honour does not include RAF personnel attached to the Indian Air Force during World War 2 nor RAF personnel of Indian Origin.

      In the numerous wars after Independence, 81 Officers and 53 Other Ranks died on the battlefield. Starting with the 1948 Kashmir conflict to the more recent 1999 Kargil fighting, These airmen and officers have kept the IAF flag flying high at the cost of their lives. The Post-Independence Roll of Honour does not cover peace-time casualities.

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    • Tributes

      There are many who served in the air force and left their mark in a quiet unassuming manner. They are not well known war heroes, or highly visible senior officers. Yet their contribution cannot be ignored. They are fondly remembered by their coursemates, family members and friends - This section hosts tributes to such unsung officers and men of the IAF who will forever be remembered.
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    • Miscellenous

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  • Heraldry

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  • Books

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  • Database

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  • Enthusiasts

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  • BR History Projects

    Okay, so you've seen the website, and liked what you have read here. You'd like to do your bit to record and chronicle the history of the Indian Air Force in its entirety.

    But you have no idea where to start or how to go about it.

    Here is how you can help. Check the following links to read about the history projects undertaken by the Bharat Rakshak IAF site.

    Choose your area of interest - and write in to volunteer. You can write squadron histories, do veteran interviews, contribute scanned material from family collections of memorabilia, do local research in your libraries, or just do simple data entry work. Every bit helps.

    Check out one of our recently completed book projects

    Check out our History, Gallery and Database sections - the amount of material generated is by far the largest collection of IAF related historical material on the Internet.

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  • Uncategorised

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  • Veteran Sites

    Bharat Rakshak is interested in compiling a personal history of the veterans that have served with the IAF in the course of its rich history. Operational and wartime histories are valuable and interesting in their own right but the details and insights available in personal testimonials are an equally valuable resource. We are looking for ex-service personnel and veterans who will be willing to share their experiences and service particulars that would help us create an archive of material on the History of the Indian Air force.

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