Helion's 90 Years of the Indian Air Force

Author/Artists: Sanjay Badri-Maharaj


Helion  Publishing


$29.95 MSRP from Casemate


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 78 pages, softcover, approx 100 images
ISBN 978-1-915070-58-6

For decades, India was part of the British Empire. The British relied quite a bit on the manpower of the subcontinent to help to keep things in other parts of the Empire in check and as such, there was a fairly large Indian Army (run by British officers, of course). In the early 1930s, the Indian Air Force came into being. The first squadron was equipped with the Westland Waipiti, a two seat 'colonial bomber' that was mainly used to help keep warring factions in check. As time went on, the force was expanded, still operating near obsolete types on policing duties as much as anything else. The Japanese entry into WWII saw a fairly large increase in the number of squadrons as well as increased lethality of the aircraft flown.

When India gained its independence in 1947 the air force was equipped with mostly British equipment. This is a trend that lasted well into the 1950s, when there was an influx of French equipment while later on, Soviet aircraft were also purchased. Egypt has developed an indigenous aircraft industry that has built trainers, their own ground attack jet, and has produced a number of other types under license. The majority of these license built aircraft have been British or Soviet/Russian designs, some of which were modified for local use. However, India has also been working on more modern local designs such as the strike aircraft shown on the cover.

The Indian Air Force is not just combat aircraft, but also operates a fairly large fleet of helicopters and cargo/transport aircraft as well. Typically, these aircraft have come from the 'usual' sources, but is starting to includes some US types. The IAF is also responsible for early warning radar systems, as well as AA defense, SAMs, and ballistic missiles.

All of this is covered in this book. The author also takes the time to discuss the political aspect of the IAF. Plans are often hampered by differences of opinion in the higher levels of command as well as a somewhat frequent lack of advanced planning when it comes to introducing new equipment to replace those reaching obsolescence. Despite this, the IAF has been capable of properly supporting the army, taking on border challenges from Pakistan and China, as well as expanding their influence in the region. All of this is covered quite well within these pages in a very readable manner. It provides a solid look at the history of the IAF from its formation and what is in store for the future. Another great read from Helion and a book I know you will like.

July 2022

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