11 May 2023 marks an extraordinary milestone in India's maritime history: the 70th anniversary of the Indian Naval Aviation Day. Born from a vision of security and independence, the Naval Air Arm has proudly served the nation, embodying the spirit of power and good order as it soars the maritime skies. Intrepid pioneers like Lieutenant (later Commodore) Yaduvansh Narayan Singh and many others ensured that seven decades ago, the Naval Air Arm took flight. The commissioning of INS Garuda, the first naval air station, in Kochi was a red-letter day in Indian maritime and military history. Following closely was the arrival of the first Indian Naval Aircraft - the Short Sealand which became part of the nascent Fleet Requirement Unit, later recognised as the first Indian Naval Air Squadron - INAS 550.
The advent of the aircraft carrier Vikrant in 1961, armed with formidable squadrons of British Sea Hawk jets and French Alizé ASW aircraft, marked a turning point in India's naval history. Its vital role in the Goa Liberation of 1961 and the Indo-Pak War of 1971 etched its place in our nation's narrative. The commissioning of INS Viraat further bolstered our naval air power.
Today, the Naval Air Arm boasts ten Naval Air Stations, three Naval Air Enclaves, and 23 Air Squadrons. Over 280 aircraft of 17 different types are operated and maintained by more than 1,800 officers and 16,000 dedicated personnel. The Naval Air Arm is projected to expand to approximately 400 aircraft by 2032, reflecting the enduring vision and unwavering commitment of the Indian Navy.
While the erstwhile Vikrant and Viraat are no longer with us, their legacy lives on. The commissioning of the indigenous aircraft carrier Vikrant stands as a remarkable testament to India's maritime power and professional excellence. It symbolises our nation's ability to independently secure its maritime interests.
Indian Naval Aviation is not merely about aircraft and technology; it is a story of the people who make it possible. Our pilots who brave the storms, our engineers who ensure peak machine conditions, and the support staff who make the impossible possible - these individuals are the lifeblood of our Naval Air Arm.
The 70th Indian Naval Aviation Day is a fitting occasion to honour the courage, commitment, and sacrifice of our naval aviators. Their service to the nation is invaluable, their dedication the wind beneath the wings of the Indian Naval Air Arm.
As we celebrate this historic day, we extend our best wishes to the entire naval fraternity and their families. Their unwavering support and resilience form the backbone of our naval community.
The Indian Naval Air Arm is a beacon of India's commitment to peace, security, and prosperity. As we navigate the challenges of the 21st century, it stands poised to drive India's emerging blue-water aspirations. The spirit of presence and power across the skies permeates through each member, fuelling the transformation from a small Fleet Requirement Unit to a globally respected force.
As we look to the future, the continued growth and expansion of our Naval Air Arm promise a reinforced maritime security and heightened readiness. With the Indian Naval Aviation set to reach new heights, India's position as a key maritime power is reinforced.
In celebration, let us cheer the dedication and service of our Naval Aviation personnel on this 70th Indian Naval Aviation Day. Let us celebrate their contributions and renew our commitment to the ideals they stand for - protection, integrity, and service to the nation. Here's to many more decades of soaring the maritime skies with excellence. Sam Noh Varunah!