The Indian Air Force (IAF) celebrated its 91st anniversary at the Bamrauli Air Force Station in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh. The occasion was marked by the unveiling of the new IAF ensign by Air Chief Marshal V.R. Chaudhari. This significant event witnessed several historic firsts, including the inclusion of the Air Force crest and the first-ever woman officer to command the Air Force Day Parade, Group Captain Shaliza Dhami among others.
The New IAF Ensign
One of the notable features of the celebration was the introduction of the new IAF ensign. The key change is the addition of the Air Force crest, which now graces the top right corner of the ensign, towards the fly side. This symbolic addition reinforces the IAF’s commitment to its identity and heritage.
Historic Parade under Gp Capt. Shaliza Dhami’s Command
Group Captain Shaliza Dhami made history as the first woman officer to command the Air Force Day Parade. Her leadership and dedication not only shattered glass ceilings but also inspired a new generation of women to pursue careers in the IAF. Her presence at the helm marked a significant milestone in the IAF’s journey towards gender inclusivity and equal opportunities.
Agniveer Vayu: Breaking Barriers
Another remarkable first was the participation of the all-women contingent, Agniveer Vayu. These dedicated women marched shoulder-to-shoulder with their male counterparts, showcasing their determination, discipline, and dedication. The inclusion of Agniveer Vayu exemplifies the IAF’s commitment to gender diversity and the relentless pursuit of excellence.
Garud Commandos: Two Decades of Service
The parade also witnessed a flight of Garud Commandos, marking their first-ever appearance. These elite special forces of the IAF have completed 20 years of commendable service to the nation. Their inclusion in the celebration was a tribute to their unwavering commitment to safeguarding the nation’s interests.
Spectacular Air Display
The air display along the banks of the Triveni Sangam featured 108 IAF aircraft, including ALH Dhruv helicopters from the Indian Army and a P-8I aircraft from the Indian Navy. The display showcased the IAF’s renowned display teams, the Surya Kiran and the Sarang, thrilling the spectators with their precision and skill.
C-295 Transport Aircraft and MiG-21 Bison Farewell
The newly-inducted C-295 transport aircraft made its inaugural appearance in an Indian air display. Simultaneously, the iconic MiG-21 Bison took what could be its final bow in an air display, as plans for its phase-out by 2025 are in motion. These moments reflected the IAF’s evolving fleet and modernization efforts.
Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari’s Vision
In his address, Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari emphasized the need for the IAF to adapt to the changing dynamics of air power. He urged his personnel to embrace innovation and transformation, emphasizing that the IAF must be “future-ready.” He highlighted the importance of integrating air, space, cyber, and ground capabilities to dominate the modern battlespace.
Towards a Visionary Future
Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari articulated a vision for the IAF to be one of the best by its centenary in 2032, aligning with India’s path to becoming a developed nation by 2047. He stressed that innovation must become a fundamental aspect of the IAF’s identity, involving the development of unique tactics, realistic training, and the incorporation of relevant lessons learned.