New Delhi: The Indian Air Force (IAF) will on Tuesday celebrate its 87th raising day, popularly known as the Air Force Day. The Air Force Day celebrations this year coincide with Dussehra festivities and with India officially receiving its first Rafale fighter jet from France.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is in Paris, where he will perform ‘Shastra Pooja,‘ before officially receiving the first Rafale.
The force has also seen a change of guard this year, with Air Vice Marshal (now Air Marshal) RKS Bhadauria succeeding Air Chief Marshal (Retired) BS Dhanoa as its 26th chief, on September 30.
In his first press interaction with the press after assuming charge, Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria, on October 4, released a promotional video for Air Force Day 2019, also the IAF’s first since February’s audacious airstrikes on Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) terror camp in Balakot in Pakistan.
The airstrikes were carried out in retaliation to the Pulwama suicide attack earlier that month in which over 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawans were martyred. However, in the aerial dogfight with the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) a day later, a Mi-17 of the IAF went down in friendly fire, killing all six personnel on board, and a civilian on the ground.
Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was captured and later released by Pakistan. However, before his plane was shot down, he himself shot down an F-16 of the PAF for which he was awarded the prestigious Vir Chakra on Independence Day.
The IAF, which is the air arm of the Indian Armed Forces, was formed as the Royal Indian Air Force on October 8, 1932. The prefix ‘Royal’ was abolished after India’s independence from the British rule. Its primary mission is to secure Indian airspace and to conduct aerial warfare during armed conflict.
It is the fourth-largest Air Force in the world.