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Indian Air Force Day: A Skyward Salute

India  •  9 Oct, 2023  •  2,535 Views  •  ⭐ 3.0

Written by Shivani Chourasia

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Yesterday marked a significant milestone as the Indian Air Force commemorated its 91st anniversary, a testament to decades of unwavering commitment and valor. In a nod to tradition, the IAF unveiled its new ensign at the Air Force Day parade in Prayagraj, a symbolic gesture that echoed a similar event 72 years ago.


As the sun rose on October 8, history unfolded with the Chief of Air Staff revealing the emblem that would grace the IAF's legacy. That day held profound significance in the IAF's narrative, a chapter scripted with the ink of dedication and service.

People were invited to join in envisioning the skies over Prayagraj, where the grand parade unfolded, and celebrations echoed across the nation. It was more than a commemoration; it was a salute to the men and women of the Indian Air Force whose professionalism and dedication were honored on that hallowed day. They soared into the heart of the festivities, where the spirit of the IAF took flight, and the nation came together to honor the guardians of its airspace.



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History of this day

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The roots of Indian Air Force Day trace back to October 8, 1932, when the British Empire laid the foundation for what we now know as the Indian Air Force, or 'Bharatiya Vayu Sena.' Emerging as a pivotal force in safeguarding the nation's skies, the first operational squadron took flight on April 1, 1933.

Comprising six RAF-trained officers and 19 Havai Sepoys, this squadron marked the initial steps into the realm of aerial defense. The modest yet crucial fleet consisted of four Westland Wapiti IIA army co-operation biplanes, stationed at Drigh Road as the "A" Flight nucleus of the planned No.1 (Army Co-operation) Squadron.

A Republic Takes Flight

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Fast forward to January 1950, a momentous year when India transitioned into a Republic within the British Commonwealth. It was during this transformative period that the Indian Air Force, in alignment with the spirit of the newly-formed republic, shed its "Royal" prefix.


Thus, the IAF evolved, adapting to the changing tides of history while continuing to soar as the guardians of the nation's airspace. On that Air Force Day, reflections were made on these defining chapters that had shaped the proud legacy of the Indian Air Force.

91st Air Force Day

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The 91st Air Force Day was commemorated in the sacred city of Prayagraj, a significant location in Hinduism. On that special occasion, the Indian Air Force planned to grace the skies above Prayagraj with a magnificent display featuring formations such as Sugreev, Luv-Kush, and Bharat, among others.

The celebration was poised to be a grand spectacle, with a total of 120 aircraft taking part in the aerial festivities. It not only honored the achievements of the Indian Air Force but also added a touch of majesty to the auspicious setting of Prayagraj, making it a truly remarkable event.


Indian Air Force Day 2023 Motto

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The motto for Indian Air Force Day 2023 was 'Nabham Sparsham Deeptham,' translating to 'touch the sky with glory.' According to available data, the Indian Air Force boasted a fleet of over 1400 aircraft and a dedicated personnel strength of 1,70,000.

Over the years, the Indian Air Force played a pivotal role in multiple conflicts, participating in four wars with Pakistan and one with the People’s Republic of China since India gained independence. This encapsulated the essence of Air Force Day 2023.

Indian Airforce Day 2023 Prayagraj

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Indian Air Force Day 2023 in Prayagraj promised to be spectacular, featuring the participation of Sarang helicopters. Celebrating its 91st anniversary, the Air Force Day event took place in Prayagraj. On Thursday, October 5, 2023, the Southern Air Command had released a captivating video showcasing the impressive fleet of Sarang helicopters.

According to officials, the Sarang helicopters, known for their breathtaking aerial displays, took center stage in the Southern Air Command's presentation. Notably, this marked the debut of five helicopters in Prayagraj, adding an exciting dimension to the event. It was a testament to the continued innovation and excellence of the Indian Air Force in showcasing its capabilities on that significant occasion.

MIG-21 Farewell

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At the Indian Air Force Day parade, the iconic Russian-origin MIG-21 jets bid farewell as the Indian Air Force initiated the phased retirement of its remaining three squadrons of these legendary aircraft.

During the Air Force Day event, Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhary, the Chief of Air Staff, announced that the indigenous Tejas Mark 1A aircraft would take over from the MIG-21s starting in 2025. This marked a significant transition, underlining the Air Force's commitment to advancing its fleet with the introduction of cutting-edge, indigenously developed technology.


In conclusion, the anticipation for Indian Air Force Day 2023 in Prayagraj was palpable. The event promised a breathtaking display, featuring Sarang helicopters and a formation of 120 aircraft. Notably, this marked the farewell of the legendary MIG-21 jets, making their last appearance.

The Air Force's commitment to technological advancement was evident, with the Tejas Mark 1A aircraft set to replace the MIG-21s from 2025. This transition signified not just a shift in equipment but a stride towards a more sophisticated and indigenous air fleet.

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