Defence from the Skies
If the Dakota transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) flying from Delhi with troops of the Indian Army had not landed at Srinagar on the morning of October 27, 1947, the history and geography of the subcontinent may well have been different! Or if the four Hunter fighters had not destroyed the bulk of Pakistani tanks at Longewala in 1971, the road to Jaisalmer for their armour thrust was wide open. The history of the Indian Air Force over the past 75 years is replete with such incidents and actions which had seminal implications for the country's defence. Air forces are unique in the sense that they are the only national military institution exclusively devoted to military operations in the aerospace continuum. The Indian Air Force is no different. Air forces don't win wars by themselves; and no one in the Indian Air Force has ever claim edit. But no war can be won without them. The air force has the unique capability to shape and influence operations on land and sea; and this makes it the dominant force in national defence. Land and naval forces, vital to national defence for a variety of reasons, cannot interfere with air operations except at the edges when they are able to employ some elements of air power in extension of land and maritime operations. It is from this perspective that this study --- or rather an interpretative essay reflecting on the significant issues and events of the past 75 years --- approaches the challenges the Indian Air Force faces in the coming decades. IAF combat forces levels have slumped while its commitments are growing rapidly in consonance with our expanding economic and political interests well beyond our territorial boundaries.
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Birth of an Independent Air Force
War from the East
Independence and After
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