New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday hailed the Indian Air Force (IAF) for protecting the nation during wars and for its contribution towards disaster relief operations.
"The Air Force that was established in 1932 with six pilots and 19 soldiers, is today one of the most powerful and courageous forces in the world," Modi said in his monthly radio programme, "Mann Ki Baat".
"From the bottom of my heart, I thank our air warriors and their families for serving the nation."
He reminisced the contribution of the IAF in various wars from 1947 until now in context with the upcoming Air Force Day which is celebrated on October 8 to commemorate its inception in 1932.
Modi explained how the IAF airlifted troops and equipments when the country was attacked by Pakistan in 1947.
"In 1947, when Pakistan attacked Srinagar, the Air Force helped the Army reach the war zone in time... In 1965 also, the IAF gave a befitting reply to the enemies.
"Who doesn't remember the fight for Bangladesh's independence in 1971? In 1999, the Air Force had a significant contribution in the Kargil war," he said.
He thanked the IAF for its involvement in relief operations.
"Be it a relief operation or disaster preparation, we are grateful to our air warriors for the commendable job that they do."
He also mentioned an option granted to women officers for permanent commission.
"They have made sure that there is gender equality in their line-up by opening doors for the country's daughters in all their departments.
"Now the Air Force is giving them the option to join permanent commission along with short service commission which I had declared on August 15.
"India can now proudly say that it is not just men power but also with women power has a contribution in its armed forces," Modi added.