Defence Ministry and IAF Reveal Shortcomings in the Air Force to Parliament Standing Committee Posted on: April 16, 2012 The Indian Defence Ministry as well as the top brass of the IAF has made a presentation in the Parliament which echoes the dismal state of the air force in the country. The Parliamentary Standing Committee has been informed that IAF has a severe shortage of trainer aircraft, simulators, fighter squadrons as well as airfields. The IAF has stated that too many planes are being phased-out while new inductions have been few and far between. At the presentation made to the Parliament, IAF officials indicated that while a large section of the fighter planes are becoming obsolete and are being phased out, the number of fresh inductions has not been forthcoming. As of now, the MiG 21s and MiG 27s will be phased out in the 12th and 13th plan period to be replaced by Su-30 MKI, medium multi role combat aircraft (MMRCA), Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) and fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA). Most of these new inductions will happen only in the distant future. IAF has also pointed out the need for basic trainer aircraft to improve the efficiency of the force and avoid fatalities. The Parliament has been told that IAF has the requirement of 181 Basic Trainer Aircraft (BTA), 85 Intermediate Jet Trainers (IJT) and 106 Advanced Jet Trainers (AJT). The basic trainer fleet of HPT-32 aircraft has been grounded since mid-2009. Last year, an entire batch of IAF trainee pilots graduated without the basic 24-week training on the HPT-32 Deepak piston engine aircraft. Instead, the pilots are proceeding to Stage-2 training on Hawk advanced jet trainers and HJT-16 Kiran trainers. However, lack of training on the basic trainer aircraft is seriously hampering their ability to fly modern and faster jets of the IAF. Except for the Hawk AJT, the remaining training aircraft are very old since HJT-16 Kiran trainer has already completed almost two decades service. Added to the shortage of basic trainers, the lack of simulators is also exacerbating the situation for the IAF. IAF officials indicated that out of 46 simulators, 16 are not operational due to grounding or undergoing phasing out process leaving only 30 simulators with the IAF. This has also negatively impacted the training and even caused mishaps. The Parliamentary Standing Committee has also been notified of the number of fatalities that have taken place since 2007. Out of the total of 46 accidents in the last five years, close to 40 per cent of accidents have occurred due to technical snags. The Parliament Committee has already recommended that the conditions to mandatorily share information with regard to accidents and helping in case of technical defects should be in-built in the future agreements. The Committee had earlier recommended that the IAF must have information on each type of aircraft and the details of the accidents to make a comparative study and evade future mishaps. The IAF has also stated to the Parliament Standing Committee that out of 52 air operational fields, 10 air fields do not have static electrical airfield lighting system (AFLS). Only last year, the Committee was informed that out of 52 operational airbases, eight do not have electrical airfield lighting and regular night operations are not undertaken from these places.