The Naval Air Arm formally took birth with the commissioning of INS Garuda, a naval air station based at Kochi on 11 May 1953. A little earlier, on 04 February 1953, the first Indian Naval Aircraft - the Short Sealand [IN101] - landed at Kochi. IN101 joined the Fleet Requirement Unit, which later became the first Indian Naval Air Squadron - INAS 550 - on 17 June 1959. The aircraft carrier Vikrant arrived in 1961, with her squadrons of British Sea Hawk jets, French Alizé ASW aircraft and French Alouette III helicopters. The Vikrant would over time prove her worth in the Goa Liberation of 1961 and in the Indo-Pak War of 1971. The Navy has since set up a number of air stations along India's maritime borders and various aircraft, covering all dimensions of naval warfare, have been inducted. With the commissioning of a second aircraft carrier, INS Viraat, the Indian Navy adding more punch to her air power. This air power at sea is backed by state-of-the-art maintenance & logistics facilities in naval aircraft yards at Kochi and Goa, and with smaller facilities at the various naval air stations.
The Naval Institute of Aeronautical Technology - established on 03 June 1957 at Kochi - is the alma mater for the air technical officers and sailors, and is an ISO 9001 recognised establishment. The courses conducted by NIAT for air technical officers, have been granted recognition by the Goa and Cochin Universities. Naval aviation is poised to grow in tandem with the overall growth of the Indian Navy and is envisaged to be in terms of platforms as well as technologies. The induction of UAV and AEW helicopters have introduced a new dimension to maritime air warfare. Indigenous development programs involving fixed wing aircraft, helicopters, air borne sensors and weapons are expected to ensure self-reliance in the future. Selective import of platforms and technologies would also be resorted to towards specific needs. The Naval Air Arm completed 50 glorious years in the service of the nation on 11 May 2003. Over the years, this arm of the Indian Navy has grown into a multi faceted force, fully equipped to meet the challenges of protecting our maritime boundaries and the assets of the nation at sea.