In 1946 the first transport squadron of the IAF, no 10 squadron was formed at Karachi ( now in Pakistan). It was equipped with the C-47 a US Aircraft and military version of the famed Dakota( DC-3). This aircraft did excellent service for the IAF. In the late fifties of the last century, the need for heavier tactical and strategic aircraft was felt by the IAF and a request was made to the West. However due to political considerations as the Indian government led by Nehru was supposed to have a pro-soviet tilt the request for military transport was put in cold storage. 

The Russian connection.

The left-leaning Indian defense minister Krishna Menon  approached the Russians for military aircraft.

Nikita Khruschev readily consented as he thought it a good way to undercut US influence in the region and the first batch of long-range military transport aircraft the AN-12 was sold to India. This was not a pressurized transport plane and it had four turboprop engines. But it was a rugged plane and served the IAF for close to 50 years. The AN-12 was hardy and could be used to ferry troops and supplies to the distant airfields in the Himalayas. It also was used to ferry tanks during the Indo - Chinese war of 1962 to Ladakh, landing at a height of 1200 ft, the highest military airfield in the world.

The IAF now went for a variety of Russian aircraft and the AN-32 soon appeared, followed by the big bird the IL-76. The last named was massive jet transport and capable of carrying 50 tons of freight and was used by the IAF to ferry troops to the Maldives in the Indian ocean  to negate a coup against the president in 1987

A string of helicopters led by the MI-15, 17 and 35 also was handed to the IAF.

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The MI -35 is a heli- gunship and has been used by the IAF in counter-insurgency operations.

Change of scenario.

Times have changed and after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of the BJP and Narendra Modi, the frostiness of 50 years in US-India military relations has gone away.The Americans  have  now supplied the big daddy of transport planes the C-130 to India. These are based at Hindon air base close to Delhi. It is the beginning of a greater involvement with the USA and obviously the Russian connection has dimmed.