The Indian Air Force, operator of one of the most diverse fleets of combat aircraft in the world, appears to have finally embraced the magic of visual storytelling. In the last few weeks, the IAF’s social media handles have positively exploded with perhaps the first high quality images of frontline aircraft in years. The IAF’s otherwise somewhat staid social media handles have been replete with a stream of mid-air photographs of air assets, the likes of which we’ve definitely never seen before.
Courtesy a handful of talented officers, including Group Captain KD Beri, Western Air Command spokesperson Wing Commander Indranil Nandi and Flt Lt DS Sekhon, the general public, and especially aviation buffs, have been treated to a near non-stop — and very welcome — slew of photographs of fleet assets that include the new Rafales, Su-30 MKIs, MiG-29UPGs, the Embraer-DRDO Netra AEW jets and more.
Thankfully the energy has caught on, and it doesn’t look like the IAF will be slowing down on something that professional photographers have been advising for years. Today, it published a trio of pictures of a rotorcraft elephant walk of sorts on the Leh airstrip in Ladakh, depicting all helicopter assets (except for the Chetak and Mi-26). These included the Cheetah/Lama, AH-64E Apache, Mi-17 V5 and CH-47F Chinook.
The IAF appears to have finally figured out how to fit in high quality shoots as part of exercises and operational deployments, since it’s near impossible that special flights for photographs would have passed budgetary muster. On Air Force day on October 8, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted this photograph by Wg Cdr Indranil Nandi of a Mirage 2000 with a Crystal Maze precision guided munition, mirroring a similar loadout with Spice 2000 weaponry that Mirages had employed during the 2019 air strikes on Pakistan’s Balakot:
Another heart-stopping midair shot showed the IAF’s oldest and newest active types in the air together — a MiG-21 Type 69 and a Rafale:
After a lot of calls for the indigenous Tejas to be included in the terrific stream of pictures, the IAF obliged:
Also making use of the Rafale’s active deployments for operations and displays to pop off a few during flare runs:
Aviation watchers have particularly loved this head-on shot of a Jaguar with a Rafale over the Himalayan foothills:
And then this one:
Private aviation photographers have for years wanted the IAF to amp up its visual storytelling, something they’ve done admirably for years in the face of access issues and logistical odds. Read more here: