This is an analytical account of the entire operational history of the IAF. Within five years of its creation the fledgling Flights of No 1 Squadron were undergoing trials by fire in the NWFP. During the World War II, the IAF expanded nine-fold and made valiant contributions in turning the tide of Japanese onslaught. Hardly had the guns fallen silent across the globe and India emerged independent breaking the centuries old yoke of colonialism, once again the IAF was called into operations in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) war in 1947-48.
The IAF was at its innovative best in the un-chartered virgin territory of Himalayan heights. From 1948 till 1962, the IAF witnessed slow and lopsided growth. The debacle in 1962 Sino-Indian war and refusal to use the combat component of the IAF was the nadir of Indian integrated decision-making. The realisation of the need for having well-structured defence forces and resultant expansion of defence forces including the IAF had begun. This reorganisation measure was disrupted half way by the Pakistani attack in J&K. The 1965 war was on.
The IAF was launched into conflict at an extremely short notice of one hour and stemmed the advancing enemy tanks from severing the lifeline of J&K. It was only the 1971 war, which enabled the IAF to prepare itself properly and prosecute a well-crafted war plan.
The exceptionally swift victory in East Pakistan in a matter of 12 days and with 93,000 Pakistani troops surrendering revealed the might of the Indian Armed Forces. The IAF contributed a lion’s share. Its precision attacks on Governor’s house had strategic results. Pakistani intrusions in 1999 in Dras, Kargil and Haneef sectors again saw restricted committal of the IAF along with the Army. Despite restrictive rules of engagement IAF operated with innovations and was the major reason for Pakistan to vacate the intrusion. In its history of 80 years the IAF has also operated in counter-insurgency role on many occasions.