Indian Air Force

Remarkable Rescue Operation Carried Out In History Of Indian Air Force

Hello Defence Lovers, Humanity is the best and favorite religion of India and this has been proved by India many times. Indian armed forces have rescued lakhs of lives whenever natural calamities wreaked havoc and also when circumstances warranted India. Indian air force plays a pivotal role in this aspect and has launched several operations to save Indian as well as overseas precious lives. Besides warfare operations, air warriors undertake frontline roles in rescue and relief operations as well.                                   

Operation Rahat

The appalling night of June 16th, 2013 brought chaos in the states of Uttrakhand and Himachal Pradesh. IAF launched operation Rahat to rescue stranded pilgrims and tourists and deployed 45 helicopters, 250 pilots, and 400 aircrews. The dauntless officers and aircrew supplied over 800 tons of relief material and essentials. C-130J Super Hercules ferried rescue workers, doctors, equipment, and medicine to Kedarnath. Other air transport like An 32, HS-748, IL-76 and helicopters Mi 17, HAL Dhruv, Cheetah, MiL and Mi 28 fanned to rescue about 25000 lives. Operation Rahat is world’s biggest heliborne rescue operation till date.

IAF providing relief supplies in operation Rahat ( source: Getty images)

Operation Maitri

On April 26th 2015, India’s frequent neighbor Nepal confronted a high intensity earthquake. Indian armed forces flew to Kathmandu within fifteen minutes of the news. Indian air force ferried Ilyushin 76, C-130J Hercules, and C-17 Globemaster heavy transport aircrafts. Besides these, eight Mi 17 helicopters were deployed which reached remote and inaccessible locations. IAF and army both took 2223 sorties and rescued about 11000 lives. IAF also air-drooped supplies and transported NDRF personnel, paramedics, and other rescue teams.   

C-17 Globemaster was used in Operation Maitri

South Sudan Crisis

Hostilities broke out between two warring factions in South Sudan capital Juba and turned into civil war on July 7th 2016. In order to evacuate Indian and other foreign nationals, Indian Air Force launched Operation Sankat Mochan. IAF ferried two C-17 Globemaster and rescued around 600 Indians from South Sudan and 450 from Juba.

Also read: Landmark War Operations Carried Out By Indian Air Force Which You Should Know

Operation Insaniyat

IAF flew its birds towards Dhaka after news of Rohingya crisis. Around 4 lakh Rohingya Muslims poured into Bangladesh due to an ethnic turmoil and murder of thousands of Rohingyas in Myanmar. Therefore, IAF transported 7000 tonnes of relief material which included rice, pulses, water and other edibles.

Operation Sanjeevani

On the request of Maldives Government, India gave its helping hand in alleviating covid crisis. IAF’s C-17J Hercules transport aircraft delivered 6.2 tonnes of essential medicine( Influenza vaccine, anti-viral medications etc.) and other hospital consumables. Indian air force successfully accomplished this operation within the time frame of 18 hours.

Also read: India-Lanka-Maldives Revive NSA Level Dialogue 6 Years Since Last Meet

Operation Poomalai

In mid 70s, the foundation of a long-term civil war was laid followed by ethnic conflicts. In 1987, Sri Lankan Army sieged the city of Jaffna, a Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, as a part of its campaign to control Tamil bases. Large scale casualties created humanitarian crisis. Thereafter, Indian government stepped in to help beleaguered and besieged population of Jaffna. After failure of Naval mission, Indian air force launched Operation Poomalai to airdrop supplies. On June 4th ,five AN-32 loaded with relief material were directed to Yekahanka air base. Besides transport aircraft, five mirage 2000 armed with  two Matiri Magic 11 AAMs and three drop tanks joined the fleet as a measure against any opposition by Sri Lankan armed forces. This operation demonstrated India’s solitary and symbolic support to the discriminated or oppressed.

Covid-19 Mitigation Mission

In April 2021 India accepted the foreign aid during the devastating second wave of coronavirus pandemic. Indian air force ferried around 1500 overseas and domestic sorties for 3000 hours. Around 50 transport aircrafts( C-17, C-130J, IL 76, AN-32, Dornier) and 20 helicopters earmarked for Covid 19. Bolstering fight against Covid, IAF airlifted  cryogenic containers, oxygen cylinders, ventilators, vaccine, medical personnel and other medical essentials. Aircrew worked round the clock to ensure proper management and distribution of supplies . Thus, saving thousands of precious lives.

Transport aircraft uplifting oxygen containers

Whether it’s a war, catastrophe, natural calamity, pandemic or any frantic foreign call, Indian air force has always spearheaded successful operations. The list of its rescue operations and relief measures  clearly describes valor, grit and glory of Indian air force.


Savvy Chahar

Bibliophile and learner

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