After India earned her independence, a meeting was called by the then Prime Minister Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru. It was the first chaired organized meeting that was held with the sole motive of electing the first General of Indian Army. Mr. Nehru suggested that a British be appointed as the General of Indian Army because no Indian soldier had a prior experience of leading an entire army.
While everyone in the room agreed to the suggestion, a soldier named Lt. General Nathu Singh Rathore raised his voice and said, “You see, sir, we don’t have enough experience to lead a nation, too. So shouldn’t we appoint a British person as first PM of India?” Hearing this, the entire room went silent.
Mr. Nehru asked the soldier whether he was willing to become the first General of Indian Army. Despite this being a golden opportunity for him, Lt. General Nathu Singh Rathore suggested the name of his senior Lt. General Cariappa as a more fitting and deserving candidate and thereby displayed courage that till date continues to inspire us.
This story acts more as an inspiration rather than serving as a fact for this article. So, without wasting time any further, let us get down to our business and share 50 amazing Indian Armed Forces facts that will not only make you feel proud but will also make you feel safer!
1. Indian Army was born in 1776. It was East India Company Government in Kolkata that formed the Indian Army.
2. Indian Army is the largest volunteer force in the entire world. This simply means that Indian Army consists of the largest number of willing soldiers in the entire world. Indian Constitution actually has the option of military conscription but never needed to implement it.
3. Indian Army is the third largest army in the world. First and second positions are occupied by China and USA respectively.
4. Throughout the world, there are only three cavalry regiments and Indian Armed Forces has one of those three.
5. The largest contributor to United Nations peace making operations is Indian Army.
6. When it comes to jungle and high altitude mountain warfare, Indian Army has no match in this world. Russia, UK, USA and several other countries send their armies to Gulmarg based High Altitude Warfare School for training. Similarly, the Counter-insurgency and Jungle Warfare School is also frequently visited by armed forces from those countries for training.
7. Indian Army has never been involved in a military coup and has never initiated first attack in any warfare.
8. World’s highest battlefield is controlled by Indian Army. It is the Siachen Glacier located 5000 meters above mean sea level (MSL). 3000 soldiers are deployed in the area because it falls under LOC (Line of Control).
9. In Indian Army, there is absolutely no provision for recruitment based on religion, caste or creed. Soldiers are always recruited based on their fitness and merits.
10. Indian military holds the credit of accepting the largest ever military surrender in world. In 1971, 93,000 Pakistani soldiers surrendered to Indian Army. It was the first conventional war in which Indian Army was directly engaged. The opponent was Pakistan. It was during this war that India liberated Bangladesh as a free country in 13 days and installed a democratic government, which is functional till date.
11. India’s most famous missile series named AGNI had its fair share of ridicule after the first two tests of AGNI-I failed. Countries like Pakistan, USA and UK were the top countries to make fun of AGNI.
12. Today AGNI is not only a feared missile because of its accurate targeting but also AGNI-V has actually put India in the elite club consisting of Russia, China, USA and France. AGNI-V is a nuclear-capable Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile and has been designed and developed completely in India.
13. With AGNI-VI (another Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile), which is currently under development, Indian Armed Forces will have the power of hitting almost anywhere in the world (except for small parts of North America and South America) sitting right in India. AGNI-VI will have a range of 10,000 kilometers.
14. Another indigenous nuclear-capable ballistic missile series is the Prithvi series. Capable of hitting within 50m of target coordinates, Prithvi is highly devastating even when fired with smaller payloads. Today AGNI and Prithvi are among world’s most accurate missile systems.
15. It is being said that India is currently developing Surya series of missiles that are based on PSLV (Polar Space Launch Vehicle) model developed by ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization). Surya I is said to have a range of 10,000 kilometers and Surya II is said to have a range of 20,000 kilometers.
16. And then Indian Army has another missile system known as NIRBHAYA. Unique in its design, this low-range sub-sonic cruise missile is all about defying anti-missile systems. Once the missile blasts off, it takes the shape of a plane with well-defined wings and tail fins.
17. NIRBHAYA can be maneuvered at tree-top level, making it completely undetectable to radars and once it is close to its target, it hovers above it and strikes at will from any possible direction. Because of its random striking procedure, it is safe against anti-missile systems. NIRBHAYA is even capable of carrying nuclear warhead and it has been developed for Army, Air Force and Navy.
18. Together with Russia, India is developing the BrahMos-2 missile. BrahMos (Brah for Brahmaputra and Mos for Moscow) is world’s fastest missile capable of traveling at a speed of Mach 7. BrahMos-1 on the other hand is already available and has 13 variants. BrahMos-1 is available for Army, Air Force and Navy.
19. The famous Bollywood movie Border was based on the Battle of Longewala. The battle was fought between India and Pakistan in which 120 Indian soldiers were up against 2000 Pakistani soldiers. Indians had only one recoilless jeep-mounted M40 rifle while Pakistanis came with one mobile infantry and 45 tanks. Indian soldiers still managed to hold their ground till morning when Indian Air Force came in for aid completely destroyed the Pakistani forces.
20. India carried out its nuclear tests covertly in early 1970s and late 1990s. American intelligence CIA completely failed to find out about the tests until the tests were completed.
21. Kerala-based Ezhimala Naval Academy of Indian Armed Forces is the largest of its kind in entire Asia.
22. Indian military is known for its valor but barely does anyone know that MES or Military Engineering Services is actually one of the biggest construction agencies in entire India.
23. There is an base of Indian Air Force in Tajikistan. That is currently the only outstation base but India is looking for another one in Afghanistan.
24. The Bailey Bridge – world’s highest bridge is actually built by Indian Army. It is located between the Suru and Dras rivers in Ladakh Valley in Himalayan Mountains. The bridge was built back in 1982.
25. World’s biggest ever civilian rescue was carried out by Indian Armed Forces. It was known as Operation Rahat and was organized in 2013. The operation was actually carried out by Indian Air Force after the Uttarakhand flood. It involved 2,140 sorties lifting 20,000 people and dropping 3,82,400 kilograms of equipment and relief materia.
26. The Battle of Saragarhi is yet another example of valor of Indian Army. Fought in 1897 on 12th of September, it was a battle fought between 21 Sikh soldiers against 10,000 Afghan soldiers. Afghans lost 180 soldiers while all 21 Sikhs died on battlefield. It was one of the greatest last stands in history.
27. The highest military honor in India is the Param Veer Chakra. 21 Indian soldiers have received Param Veer Chakra till date among which 14 received the award posthumously.
28. Indian Royal Army was the largest volunteering army by end of WWII with 2.5 million volunteers serving in naval, air force and infantry regiments posted in Europe, Asia and Africa. Of the total volunteers, 36,000 lost their lives, 34,354 were wounded and 67,340 were captured as prisoners.
29. The only war lost by Indian Army was in 1962 when India fought China. The loss was not a result of negligence on part of the Indian Army. It was rather the defense minister and PM who made mistakes in an attempt to micromanage the war using political routes. Complete freedom of operational control was not given to Indian Army and they were even denied of air support. A top ranking Chinese general eventually admitted that if there was anything that the Indian Army did not lack then it was determination and courage.
30. The Para Commandos of Indian Armed Forces is considered to be one of the best in world. They are trained to be lethal killers and they excel in covert operations. Not much is known about them and they are among the most feared armed forces all around the world.
31. “The President’s Bodyguards” is Indian Army’s oldest armored regiment. It was formed back in 1776.
32. The oldest parliamentary force of Indian Armed Forces is that Assam Rifles. Assam Rifles was formed in 1835.
33. One of the first wars that Free India fought was known as Operation Polo. It was actually a battle fought for maintaining the integrity of Indian Union and avoid its breakup. Hyderabad, one of the biggest kingdoms in India actually refused to become a part of Indian Union and demanded that it be recognized as a separate nation. It was fought in 1948 in which Indian Armed Forces annexed the state of Hyderabad and overthrew the Nizam.
34. Operation Polo, which was actually known as “Police Action” was fought between 3500 Indian Armed Forces on one side and 22,000 Hyderabad State Forces and 200,000 irregular forces known as Razakars on the other side. The operation was over in 5 days with Indian Army taking a casualty of 32 soldiers and 97 wounded. On the Nizam’s side 807 Hyderabad State Forces soldiers were killed, 1647 were taken as POWs and 1373 Razakars were killed with 1911 Razakars captured.
35. Post Independence, Goa was still under the control of Portuguese till 1961. The locals did not want the Portuguese rule and were resisting them. After several diplomatic attempts of sending back Portuguese failed, Indian Army annexed Goa, outnumbering Portuguese force in a ratio 10:1.
36. There are 9 Army Bases and 53 Cantonments of Indian Army throughout India.
37. At the age of 19, Royal Indian Army’s Sepoy Kamal Ram received the Victoria Cross for valor after WWII, making him the youngest Indian to ever receive that honor.
38. Arjun and Arjun MK II tanks indigenously developed in India are among the most advanced tanks in the world with highly accurate targeting of stationary and moving targets. They are capable of operating during day and night and can travel cross country at a speed of 40kmph and can achieve the maximum speed of 47kmph.
39. Futuristic Main Battle Tank (FMBT) is currently in a conceptual and design phase with DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organization) conducting a feasibility study of implementing Weapons Management System and Digital Cockpit of fighter aircraft. The tank is envisioned to be a lightweight fighting machine with a weight of less than 50 tons and fully automatic gunner/loader roles. This will reduce the conventional 4-member crew of Arjun tanks to 2-member crew with only Driver and Commander onboard.
40. Indian Navy has a specially trained commando force known as MACROS. MACROS is one of the very few units in this world capable of jumping into water and jumping out of aircrafts with complete combat load. They also use the most advanced weapons in entire Indian Armed Forces.
41. The only other Indian force to use the most advanced weapons is the Para Commandoes.
42. India has indigenously developed INS Arihant – a nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine. INS Arihant is capable of shooting nuclear warhead fitted missiles from a depth of 0.5 km under water. With INS Arihant, India became the 6th country in the world with the ability to design, build and operate its very own nuclear submarine.
43. The only navy to operate more than one (actually two) completely functional aircraft carriers in waters surrounding the Indian Subcontinent is India.
44. The only country in entire world to be operating submarine launched supersonic cruise missiles is India.
45. Indian Air Force (IAF) is one of the strongest air forces in world with 170,000 active personnel, 1,130 active and in-service combat aircrafts, 158 trainer aircrafts, 133 transport aircrafts,156 transport helicopters, 33 attack helicopters, 200 UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) and 155 utility helicopters. Apart from that IAF has 1,700 active and in-service not-combat aircrafts. Sukhoi Su-30MKI is the most advanced of all fighter planes and these are to be upgraded to Super Sukhoi (5th generation fighters).
46. Old communication system of Indian Air Force was replaced by Afnet in 2010. Afnet was developed by IAF in collaboration with BSNL (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited) and HCL Info systems Ltd. at a cost of 1,077 crores. It is a state-of-the-art reliable and fully secured network and gigabyte digital information grid.
47. Just like MACROS of Navy has a commando force of 2000 commandos trained and operated by IAF. Known as COIN Operations and Emergency Unit (COIN stands for Counter Insurgency), the commandos are responsible for defending the airbases from terrorists attacks. COIN also conducts search and rescue operations.
48. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is known for manufacturing HF-24 Marut which is India’s first indigenous fighter bomber. HAL is the largest aerospace company in entire Asia.
49. IAF is responsible for only one peace time casualty. One month after Kargil war IAF shot down a patrol plane of Pakistan Navy that killed all 16 people onboard. It was shot down after the aircraft the international border.
50. Indian Air Force is the 4th largest air force in world with USA, Russia and China taking the first, second and third positions respectively.