Few names in Indian Air Force history evoke such awe and inspiration at that of Air Commodore Mehar Singh, DSO, MVC, affectionately called Mehar Baba. Commissioned as a Pilot Officer in 1936 at the Royal Air Force College, Cranwell, UK was posted to the sole squadron in the Royal Indian Air Force – No. 1 Squadron, then based in the North West Frontier. Post independence Mehar Baba was the first to land in Poonch in Kashmir, and later the first to land in Leh, Ladakh – the then highest altitude airstrip in the world. Mehar Baba was later awarded the Maha Vir Chakra (MVC) and was its first IAF recipient. He passed away in 1952 when his Beach Bonanza aircraft crashed in Delhi a few days short of his 37th birthday.
Thus it only seems apt to name the first such competitive prize be named in his honor and add another first to his legendary name – The Mehar Baba Prize (M Prize).Read More
Since time immemorial natural disasters have troubled mankind. Losses due to disasters have shown a growing trend in terms loss of lives and property throughout India due to the unique geo-climatic conditions, urbanization, increasing population and cumulative degradation of the environment. Floods, droughts, cyclones, tsunamis, earthquakes landslides etc. have been a recurring phenomenon and the IAF is looking at enhancing its capabilities to meet these challenges. When disaster strikes, access to accurate information and the capacity to respond with life saving assistance to the affected areas and people is critical.
The IAF faces many challenges of its own while undertaking HADR operations and thus innovative solutions are sought to provide orders of magnitude better support. One such way is the deployment of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones as the first response for search and rescue (SAR) missions while circumventing existing human limitations.
Collaborative UAVs equipped with appropriate software (e.g. artificial intelligence, swarm intelligence etc.) and hardware (e.g. multiple sensors, high payload carrying capacity etc.) have the potential to create better HADR capabilities and help the IAF envisage a future of humanitarian response in a far more able manner.