As the Indian Air Force completes 84 years of illustrious service to the Nation, the proud men and women in blue deeply cherish IAF’s glorious past while they prepare to embrace an exciting and yet challenging future. It is a momentous day as we celebrate our achievements while paying rich tributes to our veterans who laid the strong foundation of our formidable force.
In the year gone by, the IAF has continued to grow from strength to strength and it achieved a number of operational milestones. The successful conduct of one of the largest ever Air Force Level exercises and the Fire Power Demonstration at Pokhran Range aptly showcased the operational capability and readiness of the IAF. IAF’s participation in International Exercises demonstrated our growing strategic reach and power projection capabilities. The IAF’s swift and prompt response during various contingencies in aid of civil authorities both within India and abroad was indicative of the IAF’s HADR capabilities. Another first was the commissioning of three women officers as fighter pilots in the Indian Air Force.
The Indian Air Force today stands at the threshold of acquiring multi-spectrum strategic capabilities, synonymous with India’s growing regional stature and expanding national interests. The challenges of transformation in terms of induction of new aircraft and weapon platforms, creation of operational infrastructure and training of our air-warriors are being met through focused planning and implementation so as to ensure timely operationalisation.
The mid-life upgradation of M-2000, MiG-29, and Jaguar fleet is already under way and early induction of Rafale aircraft would greatly enhance our fighter fleet capability. In addition, induction of additional C-130 Special Ops aircraft, Apache attack helicopters, and Chinook heavy-lift helicopters would further bolster our operational capabilities. Our Air Defence network has also been significantly strengthened by induction and integration of modern sensors, weapon systems and communication networks and we are progressively nearing our goal of transforming into a true network-centric aerospace force.
To attain true strategic autonomy, the IAF is focusing on indigenous acquisition of aircraft, radars, missiles and other aviation equipment in consonance with the ‘Make in India’ initiative. The induction of the indigenous light combat aircraft ‘Tejas’ into the IAF and placement of orders for 120 Tejas aircraft is a testimony to the IAF’s commitment for furthering indigenous capabilities.
My best wishes to SP’s Aviation team for their informative and credible reportage on aerospace issues over the past five decades. On behalf of all airwarriors, I compliment SP’s Aviation team for this special issue on Air Force Day and wish them success in all their future endeavours.