The Indian Air Force, Bhartiya Vayu Sena, 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 Indian 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 neighboring 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 serves as the 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.
With strength of approximately 170,000 personnel and around 1,330 aircraft, the Indian Air Force is the world's fourth largest air force. In recent years, the IAF has undertaken an ambitious expansion and modernization program to replace its aging Soviet-era fighter jets.
1. Central Air Command (CAC), headquartered at Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh
2. Eastern Air Command (EAC), headquartered at Shillong, Meghalaya
3. Southern Air Command (SAC), headquartered at Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala
4. South Western Air Command (SWAC), headquartered at Gandhinagar, Gujarat
5. Western Air Command (WAC), headquartered at Subroto Park, New Delhi
1. Training Command (TC), headquartered at Bangalore, Karnataka
2. Maintenance Command (MC), headquartered at Nagpur, Maharashtra