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Indian Air Force

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The Indian Air Force (IAF; Devanāgarī: भारतीय वायु सेना, Bharatiya Vāyu Senā) is the air arm of the Indian armed forces. Its primary responsibility is to secure Indian airspace and to conduct aerial warfare during a conflict. It was officially established on 8 October 1932 as an auxiliary air force of the British Empire and the prefix Royal was added in 1945 in recognition of its services during World War II. After India achieved independence from the United Kingdom in 1947, the Royal Indian Air Force served the Dominion of India, with the prefix being dropped when India became a republic in 1950. Since independence, the IAF has been involved in four wars with neighbouring Pakistan and one with the People's Republic of China. Other major operations undertaken by the IAF include Operation Vijay – the invasion of Goa, Operation Meghdoot, Operation Cactus and Operation Poomalai. Apart from conflicts, the IAF has been an active participant in United Nations peacekeeping missions.

The President of India Pranab Mukherjee serves as the ex-officio Commander-in-Chief of the IAF. The Chief of Air Staff, an Air Chief Marshal (ACM), is a four-star commander and commands the Air Force. There is never more than one serving ACM at any given time in the IAF. One officer Arjan Singh, DFC has been conferred the rank of Marshal of the Air Force, a five-star rank and the officer serves as the ceremonial chief. In its publication the Military Balance 2010, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) estimates that the Indian Air Force has a strength of 127,000 active personnel. However, various reliable sources provided notably divergent estimates of its strength over the years. Flightglobal estimates there to be to 1,370 aircraft in active service during 2012/2013

List of Aircraft of the Indian Air Force[edit]


  • Dassault Mirage 2000 x 60 (Multirole Fighter)
  • HAL Tejas x 8 (Multirole Fighter) - another 40 order with a planned fleet of 294 aircraft
  • Mikoyan MiG-21 x 254 (Fighter) - being replaced by HAL Tejas
  • Mikoyan MiG-29 x 62 (Multirole Fighter) - being upgraded to MiG-29UPG standard
  • Sukhoi Su-30MKI x 194 (Air Superiority Fighter) - another 78 aircraft on order

Ground Attack Aircraft[edit]

  • Mikoyan MiG-23 x 80 (Ground Attack Aircraft) - to be phased out by 2017
  • Sepecat Jaguar x 148 (Ground Attack Aircraft) - Undergoing upgrades to prolong service life.

Special Mission Aircraft[edit]

  • Beriev A-50 Phalcon x 5 (AWACS Aircraft) - three more on order
  • Embraer EMB-145 AWACS x 3 (AWACS Aircraft) - three more on order
  • Gulstream III x 4 (Reconnaissance)

Transport Aircraft[edit]

  • Airbus A330 MRTT Voyager x 6 (Aerial Tanker)
  • Alenia C-27J Spartan x 16 (Medium Transport Aircraft)
  • Antonov An-32 Cline x 105 (Light Tactical Transport) - All aircraft to be upgraded to An-32RE standard by 2016.
  • Boeing C-17 Globemaster III x 16 (Strategic Airlifter)
  • Boeing 737 x 4 (VIP Transport)
  • Boeing 777-300ER x 2 (VIP Transport)
  • CASA C-295M x 60+ (Medium Transport Aicraft)
  • Dornier Do.228 x 40 (Utility Transport)
  • Hawker Siddeley HS.748 x 58 (Tactical Transport) - to be replaced in a $2.4 billion program
  • IAI Astra 1125 x 2 (VIP Transport)
  • Ilyushin Il-76 Candid x 17 (Strategic Airlifter)
  • Ilyushin Il-78MKI x 7 (Aerial Tanker)
  • Ilyushin/HAL Il-214 x 45 (Transport Aircraft)
  • Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 Super Hercules x 12 (Tactical Airlifter)

Trainer Aircraft[edit]

  • BAe Hawk 132 x 70 (Trainer Aircraft) - 62 more on order
  • HAL HJT-16 Kiran x 81 (Trainer Aircraft) - to be phased out by 2017
  • Pilatus PC-7 Mk.II x 35 (Trainer Aircraft) - another 75 on order


  • Agusta-Westland AW.101 Merlin x 12 (Transport Helicopter)
  • Boeing CH-47F Chinook x 15 (Heavy Lift Helicopter)
  • Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow x 22 (Attack Helicopter) - another 39 on order
  • HAL Cheetah x 34 (Utility Helicopter)
  • HAL Chetak x 74 (Utility Helicopter)
  • HAL Dhruv x 112 (Utility Helicopter)
  • HAL Rudra x 20 (Attack Helicopter)
  • HAL Light Combat Helicopter x 2 (Attack Helicopter) - 66 on order
  • Mil Mi-8/17 x 187 (Transport Helicopter)
  • Mil Mi-26 Halo x 15 (Heavy Lift Helicopter)
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