The Indian Air Force (IAF) has taken a leaf out of the United States Air Force’s book and ‘changed colours’.
Some four years after the army aped the US and allowed its generals to wear stars on their collar tabs, it is now the turn of the IAF’s combat pilots to don the same flight overalls as their American counterparts.
The 75-year-old IAF has switched over from its traditional blue flying outfits to green suits for pilots and support crews. “It really does mark a departure in the sense that one tradition has evolved into another. Blue has been associated with the IAF since the 1960s (before that the flight overalls were light grey),” said a former air marshal.
The IAF, however, doesn’t mind shedding its time-honoured identity in favour of blending in with international trends. A senior air force officer said, “Green is typically used for field uniforms by many militaries. Fighter pilots and ground crew world over wear green overalls. We are keeping up with the trend.”
Incidentally, the IAF made its debut at the Red Flag exercises in the US this August when its top guns strapped in Su-30 MKI cockpits tested their warfighting skills against combat seasoned American, French and South Korean pilots — all of whom were sporting greens.
The transition to greens has already begun at some IAF squadrons and gradually all of them will switch over to the new dress code, the officer said.
The greens are not the only factor unifying the Indian and US air forces. The IAF had released a book titled “Into the Blue Yonder” last year to mark its platinum jubilee. Incidentally, the USAF official song is often informally referred to as “Into the Wild Blue Yonder”.