The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Tuesday celebrated its 87th birth anniversary at the Hindon Air Base in Ghaziabad near the national capital.

The IAF Day is celebrated annually at the Hondon base in Ghaziabad. The IAF was founded on this day in 1932.

The air show commenced with flag-bearing sky divers of the famous Akash Ganga team dropping out of an AN-32 aircraft in their colourful canopies.

Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who downed an F-16 during a dogfight between Indian and Pakistan on February 26, flew a MiG-21 at an air show held at the Hindon Air Base during the Air Force Day celebrations.

The air show was also marked by aerial displays of fighter aircraft by other Balakot heroes.

While Abhinandan led a group of three MiG-21s flying in avenger formation, Balakot heroes Group Captains Saumitra Tamaskar and Hemant Kumar flew a Jaguar and a Mirage 2000, respectively.

Abhinandan’s aerial maneuver on the MiG-21 was greeted by huge cheers from the crowds.

The 87th Air Force Day was also marked by aerial displays of newly inducted Apache attack choppers and the heavy-lift twin-rotor transport Chinook helicopter besides other aircraft.

Ahead of the air show, Indian Air Force (IAF) Chief Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria took salute and also honoured the IAF personnel.

Earlier in the day, Chiefs of the three services, Army Chief Bipin Rawat, Indian Air Force Chief, RKS Bhadauria and Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Karambir Singh, paid tributes at the National War Memorial.

Speaking on the occasion of the IAF Day, Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria said that there has been a “major shift in Government’s way of handling terrorist attacks”.

The strategic relevance of the Balakot airstrike is the resolve of political leadership to punish perpetrators of terrorism, he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his gratitude to the air warriors in a tweet earlier today.

President Ram Nath Kovind said, “India remains forever indebted to the brave men and women in blue for their selfless devotion and sacrifice.”

The Indian Air Force in a tweet greeted the air-warriors and their families on the occasion of 87th Air Force Day.

The IAF in a tweet said, “#AFDay19: On the occasion of 87th Anniversary, Indian Air Force extends its heartfelt greetings to the courageous air-warriors & their families. The Courage, Valour, Commitment, Dedication & Zeal are inspiration for all (sic).”