Valour and prestige — the world of special operations

  • Prelims: Atmanirbhar, Operation Kaveri, C-17 Globemaster heavy lift aircraft, IAF, Wadi Seidna mission etc
  • Mains GS Paper II and III: Science and technology-Development and their applications and effects in everyday life etc



  • Indian Air Force(IAF) evacuated 121 Indians from Wadi Seidna, north of Khartoum in Sudan, in the dead of night, using an Indian Air Force (IAF) C-130J Super Hercules.



Indian Air Force(IAF):

  • It was established in 1932 during World War II to support the Royal Air Force of the United Kingdom in its war against Japan.
  • In 1945, King George VI bestowed the prefix “Royal” in recognition of the IAF’s accomplishments.
    • After India became a republic in 1950, this honorary title was abolished.
  • President of India is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces,
  • The fourth-largest air force in the world is the Indian Air Force.
  • Headquarters: New Delhi
  • Motto of India Air Force: Touch the sky with Glory.
    • It was taken from the eleventh chapter of the Bhagavad Gita.
  • The Chief of Air Staff, an air chief marshal is responsible for the operational command of the air force.


Operations of the IAF:

  • Operation Meghdoot: To regain control of the heights commanding the Siachen glacier.
  • Operation Vijay (1961)
  • The Second Kashmir War (1965)
  • The Bangladesh Liberation War (1971)
  • Operation Poomalai (1987)
  • Operation Cactus (1988)
  • The Kargil War (1999)
  • The Balakot airstrike
  • The India-Pakistan standoff of 2019


The impact of Kandahar

  • The ‘Kandahar’ incident of 1999: An Indian Airlines flight IC-814 was hijacked while on a flight from Kathmandu to New Delhi
  • The standard operating procedures did not work thereafter and the plane eventually landed at Kandahar in Afghanistan, leading to the release of dreaded terrorists.


Reasons why India couldn’t Rescue the hijacked plane:

  • The presence of Pakistan whose territory could not have been overflown
  • No IAF aircraft could carry out a very risky mission avoiding Pakistani airspace, entering Afghanistan from the south and returning without refueling.


Missions known in the open domain:

  • Evacuation of Indian Embassy personnel from Herat, in Afghanistan in April 2020
  • IAF’s Garud commandos stood guard while the diplomatic staff emplaned.


Problems  in Sudan rescue Mission:

  • Intelligence was poor
  • Runway was rough with no landing aids.


How were these problems tackled by IAF?

  • Onboard aircraft instrumentation such as:
    • synthetic runway generation on the head-up display,
    • electro-optical night vision capability
    • night vision goggles.


Way Forward

  • ‘Strategic corporals(coined by General Charles C. Krulak of the U.S. Marine Corps): denotes that in modern warfare, the actions of even the enlisted man on the front lines has a strategic effect on a nation’s policies; and that institutional training should cater for this.
  • The ethos and training in the IAF’s special operations crew should not be diluted by the lure of sending the versatile C-130s for routine tasks and VIP carriage.
  • The IAF’s C-130J special ops squadrons (there are two) call themselves the ‘Veiled Vipers’ and the ‘Raiding Raptors.
    • It is incumbent on the leadership to ensure that their sting stays potent.
  • Doctrine drives technology: given the ongoing advancements, the IAF doctrine would have to spell out new methods to meet the challenges of the mid-century.



  1. How is the S-400 air defense system technically superior to any other system presently available in the world ?(UPSC 2021)

(200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)

Source: The Hindu

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