IAF Chief unveils new Ensign as the force marks 91st anniversary

This is the first Air Force Day Parade to be commanded by a woman officer, GP Capt. Shaliza Dhami

October 08, 2023 12:53 pm | Updated 08:31 pm IST - PRAYAGRAJ

The Indian Air Force unveiled its new Ensign at the annual Air Force Day parade at Prayagraj on October 8, 2023. Photo: X/@IAF_MCC

The Indian Air Force unveiled its new Ensign at the annual Air Force Day parade at Prayagraj on October 8, 2023. Photo: X/@IAF_MCC

Indian Air Force (IAF) Chief Air Chief Marshal (ACM) Vivek Ram Chaudhari on Sunday unveiled a new Ensign for the force, as it marked its 91st anniversary, by the inclusion of the Air Force Crest in the top right corner of the Ensign, towards the fly side. This year, the Air Force Day parade was held at Air Force Station Bamrauli in Prayagraj.

The air display held in the afternoon on the banks of Triveni Sangam, saw a few lakh people turn up to watch the aerial manoeuvres.

In a first, scaling up the degree of difficulty by a couple of notches, the Sarang helicopter display team has gone from a four helicopter to a five helicoptermilitary display team. “Catch us perform the five aircraft display on the occasion of Air Force day on October 08 at Prayagraj,” the team posted on social media platform ‘X’.

Also Read | PM Modi extends greetings to air warriors on IAF foundation day

In another first, the newly inducted C-295 transport aircraft made its maiden appearance in any air display in India, while the legacy MiG-21 Bison made in what is likely its last appearance in an air display, prior to the planned phasing out by the year 2025.

“We have not only circumvented challenges but also turned those challenges into opportunities. The current geopolitical landscape has provided us an opportunity to reduce dependency on imports by developing indigenous capability,” ACM Chaudhari said addressing the parade.

The theme for this year’s Air Force Day was ‘IAF - Air Power Beyond Boundaries’ which the Air Chief said aptly reflects the “inherent global reach of air power and how air power will prove decisive in future conflicts.” “Air Force operations extend worldwide, providing rapid mobility and global reach. This reach allows a nation to project air power beyond boundaries in the form of rapid deployment, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) and peacekeeping missions,” he said stressing on the need to understand the nuances of evolving air power, setting the pace to preserve peace and if and when necessary, to fight and win wars.

IAF’s first woman officer

This is the first Air Force Day Parade to be commanded by a woman officer, GP Capt. Shaliza Dhami. She is also the first woman officer of the IAF to command a combat unit. Also for the first time, the parade had an all women contingent comprising of the newly inducted Agniveer Vayu women. The parade also included a flight of Garud Commandos of the IAF for the first time, as the they recently completed 20 years of service.

At the parade, the Air Chief presented Unit Citations to four IAF Units — 16 Squadron, 142 Helicopter Unit, 901 Signal Unit and 3 Base Repair Depot for their exemplary contribution to the service. 

The parade was followed by an air display on the banks of the Triveni Sangam at Prayagraj in the afternoon. The air display on the banks of the Triveni Sangam featured about 108 IAF aircraft along with Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopters of the Indian Army and a P-8l aircraft of the India Navy as well the Surya Kiran and Sarang display teams. Lakhs of people, braving the heat, made it to the sangam area to witness it and cheered loudly as the display went on.

New Ensign

Going back in history, the Royal Indian Air Force (RIAF) Ensign comprised of the Union Jack in the upper left canton and the RIAF roundel (Red, White & Blue) on the fly side. Post-Independence, the IAF ensign was created by replacing the Union Jack with the Indian tricolour and the Royal Air Force roundels with the IAF tricolour roundel. A new lAF ensign has now been created to better reflect the values of the Force, the IAF said in a statement. 

Explaining the new Ensign, the statement said the IAF Crest has the national symbol, the Ashoka lion on the top with the words ‘Satyameva Jayate’ in Devanagari below it. Below the Ashoka lion is a Himalayan eagle with its wings spread, denoting the fighting qualities of the IAF, it stated, adding, “A ring in light blue colour encircles the Himalayan eagle with the words ‘Bharatiya Vayu Sena’ and the motto of the IAF is inscribed below Himalayan eagle in golden Devanagari.”

Last September, the Indian Navy too had adopted a new naval ensign as part of measures to move to do away with colonial practices.

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