The Indian Air Force celebrated 84 years of service on Saturday with an air display and ceremony at Hindon air base in Ghaziabad, ANI reported. The Air Force was inaugurated on October 9, 1932. Addressing the gathering, Air Force Chief Marshal Arup Raha said "We are getting smarter and smarter and are fully prepared for any contingency."
Raha said the acquisition of 36 Rafale aircraft over the next few years would improve the air force wing's "operational capability," ANI reported. His statements follow rising hostilities along the Line of Control between India and Pakistan. New Delhi has accused Islamabad of being involved in a militant strike at its Army base in Uri, while Pakistan has called the allegations "baseless". Raha said the attacks were a "stark reminder" of the times we live in.
Vayu Sena Gallantry Medals and the Vishist Seva Medals were awarded to meritorius Air Force personnel at the event attended by Indian Army chief Dalbir Singh and honourary Group Captain and former cricketer Sachin Tendulkar. Raha also responded to queries about an IAF wing commander embroiled in a drug-trafficking controversy. He said, "It does bring a bad reputation. We have investigated and are taking a lot of steps," the news agency reported.
On Twitter, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, "Saluting all air warriors and their families on Air Force Day. Thank you for protecting our skies. Your courage makes India proud." President Pranab Mukherjee said the Air Force has emerged as a "professional and combat-ready force".
The ceremony included a display by flag-bearing Akash Ganga sky divers, vintage aircraft, modern transport aircraft and frontline fighter aircraft and an aerobatic display. The Air Force also launched its official Facebook page on Saturday.