- In the midst of ongoing tensions with china in eastern Ladakh, the Indian Air Force received its five Rafale fighter jets at Ambala airforce station from France. In 2016 GOI signed a 59000 crore Rupees Intergovernmental Agreement to buy 36 New Rafale Fighters From France in flyaway condition. These 36 Rafale will add two squadrons in the current squadron strength of IAF.
- In the current scenario, IAF is operating around 33 squadrons of aircraft which is significantly less than 42 squadrons envisaged by the service, this 42 squadron strength is being considered necessary to fight a two-front war against China and Pakistan. this squadron strength is further going to drop to 27 in the coming years as the IAF is going to retire its squadron of MIG 21 bison.
What are the Measures were Taken by GOI to address this issue of depleting Squadron Strength ?
- on July 2 this year, the defense acquisition council approved military procurement proposal worth an estimated Rs 38900 crore. A Major portion of this deal will be directed to procure indigenous systems such as Pinaka rocket ammunition, land-attack cruise missiles, and 248 Astra beyond visual range air to air missiles.
- Approvals were also given for the procurement of 21 Mig 29 from Russia along with upgrading 59 existing mig29 and the procurement of 12 SU30 MKI which will be manufactured by HAL under license. the MIG 29 will add one new squadron strength but 12 SU 30 MKI will replace the jets lost in various accidents till 2019.
- Along with adding two squadrons of Rafale, another deal for the procurement of 83 light combat aircraft MK 1A is expected to be signed before December 2020. As of now, IAF is operating one squadron of LCA in initial operational configuration and recently it added one more aircraft in the second squadron with final operation configuration. eventually, IAF Is expected to get 123 LCA including the 83 LCA MK1A by 2027, the advanced version of mk1a i.e mk2 is currently under development is expected to take the flight by 2024-2025. There is another concept to design and develop an Omni Role Combat Aircraft (ORCA) of the Rafale Category.
- The most ambitious project For developing an indigenous fifth-generation fighter aircraft i.e AMCA, Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft is under development and the first prototype of this aircraft is expected to be ready by 2025 and the aircraft will go into production by 2032.
- Along with indigenous efforts, here is also another project in the name of MMRCA 2.0 for the procurement of 114 fighter jets. a tender for this has been floated globally and many contenders have presented their fighters. Though there is no fresh updates regarding MMRCA 2.0 and the final decision is yet to be decided.
- IAF is also upgrading its inventory to meet the current requirement and to increase the life of its fighters like IAF has upgraded its MIG 29, Jaguar and Mirage 2000. In an interview this year Air Chief said that IAF is planning to Procure 450 New planes which include 114 Multirole Fighter Aircraft, 100 Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft, and over 200 variants of the Light Combat Aircraft. He further said that the induction of these fighters would take place over a period of the next 35 years
- These all Procurements will take a long time and there are budget constraints too, and this issue will further deteriorate because of COVID Pandemic, even before the pandemic, Airforce is facing budget shortages, out of the total capital allocation of Rs 1.13 lac crore Airforce got only Rs. 43281 crore. As in recent times, IAF has Purchased Apaches, Chinooks from the USA and signed a major deal for the procurement of S-400 from Russia.
- The Airforce is also planning to buy large numbers of UCAVs. Therefore a comprehensive plan is required to meet the current requirements without putting the nation’s security at risk and prepare for the future. The most important thing is to prefer indigenous products but not at the risk, India needs to promote indigenization while procuring new technologies from other countries as technology is changing rapidly and as the kind of warfare.