Central Air Command: A dominant power in the sky ALLAHABAD: The Central Air Command (CAC) is celebrating its golden jubilee this year. It was formed on June 10, 1963 at Rani Kutir, Kolkata, to keep vigil along the Indo-Nepal border. With its motto of 'Damniyah Atmashatravah' (Vanquish the enemy), the Central Air Command has an enviable and exemplary record during war and peace time services to the nation. The command has seen squadrons of earlier generation like Spitfire, Liberator, Canberras and the Gnats to the famous Mirage 2000, the lethal Su-30MKI, the uncompromising Jaguar and high performance AWACS. The squadrons have brought glory to the nation and to the Indian Air Force. Throwing light on the 50th year of the formation of CAC, Defence PRO Group Captain Amit Mahajan said post Chinese aggression of 1962, the operational group was bifurcated in two separate commands i.e. the Central Air Command (CAC) but the location of Kolkata was found too skewed towards East and therefore, in February 1996, HQ CAC was shifted to Bamrauli, Allahabad. Initially the CAC controlled air operations in Central India, from Delhi to Bengal, but with the establishment of the Southern Air Command and further reorganization, its size was reduced. Presently, the area covered by CAC ranges from the snow peaked mountains in the north to the Gangetic planes and central highlands. The stations of the CAC are located at Agra, Bareilly, Gorakhpur, Gwalior and Bamraulli and the units are also located at Bihta, Darbhanga, Bakshi-ka-Talab, Nagpur, Nainital, Memaura and Varanasi. During the 1965 war, 163 bombing and 33 close air support sorties were carried out by Canberras against PAF in the western sector, raiding the airbases at Sargodha, Peshawar, Multan, Chaklala and Mauripur. Squadron Leader Charanjit Singh and Flt Lt Mangat Singh made the furthest penetration on the night of 13-14 September 1965, when they carried out a 'brilliant raid' on a major air base at Peshawar. Three Mahavir Chakras were awarded to the members of Canberra squadrons. The victory of the Indian armed forces against Pakistan in 1971 and the liberation of Bangladesh is a proud chapter in the history of CAC too. At the time of this war, 5 Canberra bomber Squadrons were grouped under the CAC at Agra, Puna and Gorakhpur.Transport Squadrons were largely based at airfields in the CAC. At 1747 hrs (5.47 pm) on December 3, 1971, PAF (Pakistan Air Force) launched simultaneous attacks on a number of forward bases of the IAF. The first Canberras spearheaded IAFs swift retaliation before midnight on December 3. In a major attack, seven Canberras of number 35 Squadron struck the storage area at Drigh road and scored direct hits on the oil storage tanks at Karachi, destroying about 60 % of Pakistan's oil reserves at Karachi. On the eastern front, the fleet of transport aircrafts, consisting of AN-12, Dakotas, Packets with CAC, were used for Para dropping of troups. Likewise, the operation for Maldives on November 3, 1988, wherein the battalions of Indian Army's 50th Parachute regiment were airlifted to Maldives in two II-76s of the 44 Squadron based at Agra and the aircraft flew for over 2000 km non-stop and landed at the Hulule airport on a dark unlit runway without any airfield aids. By 2.30am on November 4, the Indian forces had completed their mission and President of Maldives was safely escorted back. Operation "Safed Sagar" or the Kargil war in 1999, emphatically established the superiority of the IAF, in terms of capability, mental and professional edge over the Pakistan Air Force. The Mirage 2000 aircraft, with their base at Gwalior, were at the forefront of the air defence and ground attack. And several personnel of CAC were decorated following this war.