Taking off, are we?

Discussion in 'Indian Air Force' started by Neil, Aug 8, 2011.

  1. Neil

    Neil Senior Member Senior Member

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    From the euphoria of high office to a jarring reality check, Air Chief Marshal Norman Anil Kumar Browne traversed many emotions within a week of taking over as the chief of the Indian Air Force. Barely had he settled into his office on August 2 came news of the aging MiG-21s claiming another pilot's life. Two days later, another pilot died in a Jaguar crash.

    Browne is no stranger to crashes. He's been in the inherently-dangerous business of military aviation for 39 years and has notched up over 3,100 hours of flying. But when Browne was tearing into the skies in a MiG-21 in his youth, he could hardly have imagined that even by the time he became the IAF chief, India's first-ever supersonic fighters would still be around. The IAF may be the world's fourth largest air force, after the US, Russia and China, but virtually half its combat fleet is made up of obsolete fighters like MiG-21s and MiG-27s. Plus, it's dogged by huge operational and maintenance problems. Its helicopter fleets, air defence systems and radars are no better.

    Successive governments have failed to build India's military capabilities in tune with its expanding geopolitical objectives. Little has also been done to create a strong domestic defence-industrial base, forcing India to become one of the world's largest arms importers. After the 1999 Kargil conflict and Operation Parakram of 2002 exposed gaps in operational capabilities, India inked a flurry of arms deals worth over $50bn over the last decade, most with gleeful foreign armament majors. More than double that amount will be spent this decade.

    IAF is now keeping its fingers crossed on its various modernization plans coming good. Browne has played a key role in steering them - like the $10.4bnMMRCA project - during his stint as the IAF deputy chief. Now he feels confident enough to proclaim that the "IAF is well poised on the path of transforming itself into a potent strategic force".

    Transform, IAF will have to. With older MiG variants being progressively phased out and new inductions coming in fits and starts, it has been in a freefall for a long time as far as the strength of its fighter squadrons (each with 14-18 jets) is concerned. The number of squadrons dipped to just 28 (sanctioned strength is 39.5) in the recent past.

    Senior officers say it'll not be before 2020 that the IAF manages to reach this "sanctioned strength" of 39.5 fighter squadrons. "This, when for long we have held that a minimum of 45 fighter squadrons are required to meet the twin-threat from Pakistan and China,'' says an officer.

    The air combat ratio with Pakistan, in fact, has declined to such an extent that a previous IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi, was forced to warn the UPA government that "unless immediate steps are taken to arrest the reduction in IAF's force levels, the nation will for the first time in its history lose the conventional military edge over Pakistan''. To add to the woes, apart from swanky new advanced F-16s from the US, Pakistan is also on course to get as many as 250 JF-17 'Thunder' fighters plus a squadron or two of J-10B jets from China.

    China, meanwhile now has five fully-operational airbases in Tibet, with more coming up. With the Chinese Sukhoi-27UBK and Sukhoi-30MKK fighters having practiced operations from there in recent times, India remains the target. The IAF has begun to base its Sukhoi-30MKIs in the north-east, with Chabua following Tezpur, apart from upgrading airstrips and helipads along the LoC in a bid to counter China.

    But the progress is slow. Browne will have to ensure that modernization plans remain on track and that operational capability is enhanced. "Operating across a broad spectrum of equipment vintage would test our capabilities,'' he admits.

    IAF wants to transform into a fully-networked aerospace power, with a clear footprint from the Persian Gulf to Malacca Strait. Much like the central protagonist in the famous 'Peanuts' comic strip, "Charlie Browne'' (the IAF chief's nickname) will have to press on, regardless of the odds.


    Taking off, are we? - The Times of India
     
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  3. Param

    Param Senior Member Senior Member

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    Is that an MKI in Russian AirForce?

    It has canards and looks like MKI not like the regular SU 30.
     
  4. Neil

    Neil Senior Member Senior Member

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    ya its a RAF su30...

    even russia has su30 with canards...
     

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