Air Force Station Hindan (Hindan AFS) (also Hindan) is an Indian Air Force base under the Western Air Command (WAC). It is the biggest and largest air base in Asia and 8th in the world. Its area measured 14 km rounded and 55 square kilometres (21 sq mi). This base celebrates Air Force Day on 8 October. It is located near Loni Ghaziabad in the state of Uttar Pradesh in the National Capital Region on the outskirts of Delhi, close to the Hindan River. Starting 2006, the annual Air Force Day Parade venue was shifted from Palam Airport to Hindan. There is one runway, aligned east-west (09-27), of 9,000 feet (2,700 m) length x 150 feet (46 m) width. This is the home of the C-17 Globemaster the backbone of Heavy Air Lift division of Indian Air Force
No. 77 Squadron (Lockheed C-130J Super Hercules)
No. 81 Squadron (Boeing C-17 Globemaster III)
No. 129 Helicopter Unit (Mil Mi-17IV)
Originally the base was home to a squadron each of MiG-23s and MiG-27s, both single-engine fighters. After the 1965 war, No. 7 Squadron IAF moved to Hindan along with Hawker Hunters, and stayed here till 1969, when it moved to Bagdogra in West Bengal, subsequently during the East Pakistan Operations 1971 it flew in on 6 December 1971. Prior to the No. 3 Squadron moved here in July 1971 and was operating Mystère IVAs at the time. After the war it moved back to Hindon, until it shifted base to Pathankot in 1975.
In mid-1980s it was identified by ornithologist Dr. Salim Ali among the 10 air bases in India prone to bird hits, due to the presence of slaughterhouses and dumping grounds in its vicinity being close to the Ghaziabad industrial city. In the coming years, the number of accidents increased.
Finally in 1997, when three plane crashes occurred within a span of few days, Hindon was abandoned as a fighter base and remained home to Avros and Mi-17 helicopters and transport aircraft in the following years, apart from being used by the IAF Aircrew Examination Board.
However, in 2003, with growing terrorist threats, its importance as a strategic air base to provide air cover to the capital was realised, as Hindan-based fighters could reach the skies over New Delhi within five minutes as compared to the 15-plus minutes it would take from other closest bases, namely Sirsa, Ambala Air Force Base and Chandigarh Air Force Station, and thus Hindan was reactivated and area around it was cleaned up. September 2005, saw Air Chief Marshal S.P. Tyagi becoming the first Chief of Air Staff to earn para wings while in office, as he finished his fifth and final para jump at Air Force Station Hindan.
In 2006, Indian Air Force shifted its 74th Anniversary celebration venue from Palam Airport in Delhi, to Hindan to avoid airspace closure for commercial traffic, where the Air Force Day Parade cum investiture ceremony was held on 8 October, and an air display by 66 aircraft. This also gave the IAF aircraft more air space during the air show, till then was uses primarily as a helicopter base. After that it has become an annual event at the station.
On 1 June 2007, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal F.H. Major flagged off a microlight expedition, part of the IAF’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, aiming to creating a record by completing the expedition, Around the World in 80 Days. Wing Commanders Rahul Monga and Anil Kumar reached Hindan back on 19 August, and covering 40,497 km in 80 days they achieved a speed of 21.092 km/h thus beating the previous record of 16.53 km/h set by Colin Bodil of the U.K. in 2001. Although the FAI ( Fédération Aéronautique Internationale - world governing body for air sports, aeronautics and astronautics world records) has denied their claim as both the pilots and the Indian Air Force could not furnish any proof for such a feat.
In 2007, when the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the Indian Air Force (IAF) launched a pilot project to test joint management of the airspace, Hindon was opened to civilian flights, though its open for flights only during stipulated hours of the day.
After the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks IAF moved MiG-29s were the air base in order "to protect the capital from aerial threats."
Hindan was amongst nine airfields in the Western Air Command (WAC) for the Modernization of Air Field Infrastructure programme (MAFI), started in 2009. Due its proximity to the Delhi, work at the station which included equipping it with sensitive radars was commence first. This work completed in 2011 when the first of six C-130J Hercules tactical transport aircraft arrived from the US. Hindan was designated to become home base for these aircraft and for this purpose, the Hindan runway was extended and modern hangars, servicing and operations facilities suitable for the C-130J aircraft were added. Hindan currently hosts 18 C-130J's.
In June 2011, the IAF signed a contract with the USAF to purchase 10 Boeing C-17 Globemaster III's. With the No. 81 Squadron bed down, the contract includes a dual-bay hangar, squadron operations facility, and other facilities and utilities to support aircraft operations. Deliveries began in June 2013 and are to continued through December 2014.No. 5 Squadron IAF – Jaguar IS/IB
No. 14 Squadron IAF – Jaguar IS/IB
No. 23 Squadron IAF – MiG-21 bis
No. 24 Squadron IAF – MiG-21 bis
The Garud Commando Force of the Indian Air Force are trained at this base.