Saturday, 8th October 1932 was the day, when The Indian Air Force was officially established. IAF was an auxiliary air force of the British Empire and the prefix Royal was added in recognition of its services during World War II in 1945. After Independence prefix being dropped when India became a republic in 1950.  Air Marshal Sir Thomas Walker Elmhirst was the first Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Air Force of Free India.

Here is the list of all ex Air Chiefs :

  • Thomas Walker Elmhirst (15 Aug 1947 - 22 Feb 1950)
  • Ronald Ivelaw-Chapman (22' Feb 1950 - 09 Dec 1951)
  • Gerald Ernest Gibbs (10' Dec 1951 - 31 March 1954)
  • Subroto Mukerjee (01 April 1954 - 08 Nov 1960)
  • Aspy Merwan (01 Dec 1960 – 31 July 1964)
  • Arjan Singh (01 Aug 1964 - 15 Jul 1969)
  • Pratap Chandra Lal (16  July 1969 - 15' Jan 1973)
  • OmPrakash Mehra (16 Jan 1973 - 31 Jan 1976)
  • Hrushikesh Moolgavkar (01' Feb 1976 - 31' Aug 1978)
  • Hassan Latif (01' Sep 1978 - 31' Aug 1981)
  • Dilbagh Singh (01 SEP 19881 - 03 SEP 1984)
  • Lakshman Madhav Katre (04' Sep 1984 - 01' July1985)
  • Denis Anthony (03' July 1985 - 31' July 1988)
  • Surinder Kumar Mehra (01 Aug 1988 - 31 Jul 1991)
  • Nirmal Chandra Suri (31 July 1991 - 31 July 1993)
  • Swaroop Krishna Kaul (01 Aug 1993 - 31 Dec 1995)
  • Satish Kumar Sareen (31' Dec 1995 - 31'Dec 1998)
  • Anil Yashwant Tipnis (31 Dec 1998-31 Dec 2001)
  • Srinivasapuram Krishnaswamy (31 Dec 2001- 31 Dec 2004)
  • Shashindra Pal Tyagi (31 Dec 2004 to 31 Mar 2007)
  • Fali Homi Major (31 Mar 2007 to 31 May 2009)
  • Pradeep Vasant Naik (31 May 2009 to 31 Jul 2011)
  • NAK Browne (01 Aug 2011 - 31 Dec 2013)
  • ARUP RAHA (01 Jan 2014 - Present)


Rank Hierarchy in Air force (Officer Ranks)

  • Marshal of the Air Force
  • Air Chief Marshal
  • Air Marshal
  • Air Vice Marshal
  • Air Commodore
  • Group Captain
  • Wing Commander
  • Squadron Leader
  • Flight Lieutenant
  • Flying Officer

Junior commissioned officer and non-commissioned ranks

  • Master warrant officer
  • Warrant officer
  • Junior warrant officer
  • Sergeant
  • Corporal
  • Leading Aircraftsman
  • Aircraftsman

Arjan Singh is the only officer of the Indian Air Force to be promoted Marshal of the Air Force in Jan 2002. It is equal to a five star General or a Field Marshal in an Army.

The Indian Air Force along with the other branches of the Indian Armed Forces provide assistance in disaster relief such as during natural calamities by undertaking evacuation or search-and-rescue (SAR) operations and air dropping relief supplies in affected areas.The IAF provided extensive assistance to relief operations during natural calamities such as the Gujarat cyclone in 1998, the Tsunami in 2004 and North India floods in 2013.The IAF also provides assistance to other countries during relief activities such as Operation Rainbow in Sri Lanka.

Group Captain Sachin Tendulkar

Over the years the IAF has grown from a tactical force to one with transoceanic reach. The strategic reach emerges from induction of Force Multipliers like Flight Refuelling Aircraft (FRA), Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) and credible strategic lift capabilities. There is emphasis on acquiring best of technology through acquisitions or upgradation, be it aircraft, systems, precision missiles or net centricity.

The Indian Air Force has been undergoing a modernisation programme to replace and upgrade its aging and outdated equipment since the late 90's to advanced standards. For that reason it has started procuring and developing aircraft, weapons, associated technologies, and infrastructures. Some of these programmes date back to the late 80's. Of the available fleet, MiG-21, MiG-27 and Jaguar aircraft have already been upgraded and Mirage-2000 and MiG-29 aircraft are planned for upgradation.

The Indian Air Force is considering upgrade of its medium lift helicopters comprising Mi-8, Mi-17 and Mi-17-IVs, as also the AN - 32 transport aircraft, with the aim of improving their overall capability. The primary focus of current modernisation and upgrades is to replace aircraft purchased from the Soviet Union that currently form the backbone of the Air Force.

 The IAF today is in the process of a most comprehensive modernisation plan. Over the next few years, the force would induct more Su-30 MKI aircraft, the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) and the Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA). There are plans to augment the helicopter and transport fleets too. The IAF is also in the process of acquiring radars in various categories to meet the Air Defence requirements, accurate and advanced weapons, Network Centric Warfare systems, etc, to meet its assigned tasks.

On 23 September 2016, Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian signed the contract for the purchase of 36 off-the-shelf Rafales in a deal worth 7.8 billion Euros. The first Rafale warplanes are slated to be delivered roughly within 18 months of the signing of the deal. The first aircraft will be delivered to the IAF by early 2019, with the full complement of aircraft to be delivered by 2022.

The Indian Air Force has seven commands, of which five are operational and two functional, namely :

  • HQ Central Air Command, Allahabad
  • HQ Eastern Air Command, Shillong
  • HQ Western Air Command, New Delhi
  • HQ Southern Air Command, Thiruvananthapuram
  • HQ South-Western Air Command, Gandhi Nagar
  • HQ Maintenance Command, Nagpur and
  • HQ Training Command, Bangalore


Strength of Indian Air Force

Sukhoi Su-30MKI Russia , India  
HAL Tejas India  
MiG-29 USSR  
Mirage 2000 France  
MiG-21 USSR  
Jaguar UK, India  
MiG-27 USSR  
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III USA  
Ilyushin Il-76MD USSR  
C-130J Super Hercules USA  
Hawker Siddeley HS 748 UK, India  
Antonov An-32 Ukraine  
Dornier Do 228 Germany, India  
Boeing 737-2A8 USA  
Boeing 737-700 USA  
Embraer ERJ 135 Brazil  
Embraer ERJ 145 Brazil  
Ilyushin Il-78 MKI Russia  
Beriev A-50EI Russia  
Embraer ERJ-145 AEWCS Brazil  
Gulfstream III USA  
Bombardier Global 5000 Canada  
BAE Hawk UK, India  
HAL HJT-16 Kiran India Trainer



Pipistrel Virus Slovenia Trainer
Mi-35 USSR Attack
HAL Rudra India Attack
HAL Light Combat Helicopter India Attack
Mi-26 USSR Transport
Mi-8 USSR Transport
Mi-17 Russia Transport
HAL Dhruv India Utility
HAL Cheetah India Utility
HAL Cheta India Utility