Flying high after 84 years, IAF again displays its prowess

The Indian Air Force today celebrated its 84th anniversary at the Hindon Air Base in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, with its usual display of breath-taking and crowd-pleasing aerobatics that the public regularly throngs to watch.

The Indian Air Force, also known as Bharatiya Vayu Sena is of course the air arm of the Indian Armed Forces. Its key role is to keep the Indian aerospace free of attacks and manage aerial warfare during the conflict.

Here are some less-known facts about the IAF, courtesy India Today:

Established on 8 October 1932, it possessed a strength of 25 soldiers of which 19 were combat pilots. Ever since then, the air force has gone through considerable modernisation and expansion, both in strength of man and technology.

With around 1,70,000 personnel and 1,500 aircraft, it is the fourth largest air force in the world after the US, China and Russia. It is also the seventh strongest Air Force in the world, ahead of Germany, Australia and Japan.

The IAF flag, adopted in 1951, is blue in colour and contains the National Flag in the first quadrant and a roundel of the Tricolour. Its crest is considered to be of great historical and sentimental value.

Its motto Nabha Sparsham Deeptham is taken from the eleventh chapter of the Bhagvad Gita. As Lord Krishna shows his divine form to Arjuna, in a similar way, the Indian Air Force aims to overwhelm adversaries with aerospace power.

It has its own museum in New Delhi. It has a rich collection of memorabilia of Indian Military Aviation and displays the history of the Indian Air Force.

The chief of the Indian Air Force, Air Marshal Arup Raha, was commissioned in December 1974.

Arjan Singh is one of the most respected Indian Air Force Marshals. In recognition of his services, he was awarded a 'Five Star' rank in the year 2002, with the honorary rank of 'Marshal of the Indian Air Force'.

The latest addition to the Air Force arsenal, Mirage 2000, a French single-seat air defence and multi-purpose fighter jet, is powered by a single engine with maximum speed of 2,495 kilometres per hour. On external stations, it carries two 30mm integral cannons and two Matra Super 530D medium-range and two R-550 magic ll close combat missiles.

From 1 October 1993 to 21 December 1994, the IAF took part in peacekeeping duties in Somalia as part of the Indian contingent supporting UN operations.