The Indian Air Force came into existence on 8 October 1932 during the days of the Raj-an euphemism for British rule. it was entirely equipped with British aircraft which were seconded from the Royal Air Force. In 1946, the IAF also got its first transport squadron which was equipped with the C-47 an American military plane. The IAF was also allowed to cannibalize and get ready at least 2 squadrons of the B-24( Liberator). This plane was used by the US Air Force for operations in China against the Japanese from bases in India. After the war, many of these planes were abandoned at Kanpur and these after repairs became the heavy bomber squadron of the IAF.

In 1952 a team from the USAF came to India and were impressed with the way the Indians were using the B-24. The B-24 was a 4-engine piston plane with a range of 3000 miles.

Drifting to the Soviets.

In the late fifties, the Indian policy began to have a marked pro-Soviet tilt. Primarily this was because India did not want to join the military pacts against Russia and the Indian prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru began to follow a policy of nonalignment. The IAF at that stage requested for the Lightning Mark III but the western powers were wary of India and refused. The Russian premier Nikita Kruschev saw his opportunity and offered the MIG fighter to India with manufacturing facilities. The left-leaning Indian Defence Minster Krishna Menon who was rabidly pro-soviet readily accepted the Russian offer.

Top Videos of the Day

Thus the first MIG-21 a Mach II interceptor became part of the IAF. Another reason to have a pro-soviet tilt was Kashmir - a bone of contention between India and Pakistan. The Soviets backed India with their Veto in the security council. Russian aircraft now poured into India and the IAF had the MIG- 23, 27, Su-7 , IL- 76, AN -32 and the MI 15 helicopter in  service. The victory over Pakistan in 1971 established India as the dominant power in SE Asia.

Closer to the USA.

The air force became totally dependent on Soviet Russia and the Russians began to charge exorbitant payments for spare parts. The Soviet Union also collapsed and India was confronted with a situation that dictated a change to the old policy. The USA also began to see India as a strategic partner, particularly as both countries were threatened by China. The IAF began to slowly wean itself away from dependence on Russian aircraft and the C-130, American heavy transport was inducted into the IAF after 60 years of the C-47. The Indian government also realized that being a partner with the USA would be a better option and things began to move faster once Obama became president. India has now moved firmly towards a partnership with the USA with Narendra Modi as the PM. The Soviet connection has gone though the IAF still uses Russian-made fighters and bombers.