IAF's Air doctrine

Haldilal

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Background of the IAF Air Doctrine.

The Indian Air Force which has Gone from a Regional focused air force into a power projector this has many ramifications to the IAF. In the last few decades the IAF has transformed itself from a Army Support Services to a independent power force. It was in the radical version that the IAF role has aligned similar to the others Air projecting forces. But there are many indigenous concepts that are unique and effective to the regional perspectives. This shift in the air doctrine started after the 1999 Kargil War. The doctrine includes some indigenous concept like maritime support and coverage.

The fourth largest Air Force is currently undergoing some radical transformation. The IAF established in 1932 has been involved in many conflicts performing both the COIN and CAS roles. In the initials phase the IAF lacked a structural and Doctrine rigidness. The IAF has done everything in the Indo-Pak Conflicts to Safe guard the nations skies. In the case of the Sino-India conflicts IAF role has been largely limited towards a support force due to the political reasons. The IAF has largely focused on the paks borders with a large parts of its Air Stations and Air Assets focused on the them.

This proves the IAF incapability to power projections. The IAF basic doctrine has been heavily relied on the tatical front. This all changed with the 1999 Kargil war where a need for the power projection was felt needed. With the new refocus on the threats from the chinese. The kargil war was a reminder to refocus on the air doctrines.

The three month war proved the basic need to change in the air doctrine. With the infiltration of the Special Service Group SSG and Northern Light Infantry NLI at the 16,000 to 18,000 feet. And as late as the morning of 10 May, the IAF’s Western Air Command still knew nothing about the incursion. The Helicopter GunShip Mil 24 Hinds proved unproductive with the initial losses. When it was pointed out by the local air commander that attack helicopters would be extremely vulnerable to ground fire, especially Pakistani surface-to-air missiles (SAM), the Army vice-chief insisted that fast jet aviation would be inappropriate and potentially escalatory. At this point, the chief of the IAF, Air Chief Marshal Anil Tipnis, sought political approval for the use of fixed-wing offensive airpower. the IAF during the first weeks of the campaign was derived from its own aerial reconnaissance. In contrast to the Army’s own organic aviation reconnaissance, which failed to detect any Pakistani activity in the previous months, the IAF’s imagery analysis had at least shown where most of the Pakistani dispositions were, and electronic surveillance of the area provided useful signals intelligence (SIGINT), in spite of the Pakistani’s increased signals security.

Offensive air operations began at first light on 26 May, two weeks after the first indications of a Pakistani incursion. The initial missions proved to be unusually taxing for the IAF; most of the targets were located on or near mountain ridgelines at altitudes between 16,000 and 18,000 feet. The rock-and-snow terrain made visual target identification very problematic, and the fast jet pilots found it very difficult to aim their weapons within the confines of narrow valleys. The threat of Pakistani anti-aircraft artillery and SAMs was always present, and three IAF aircraft were lost within the first three days of the campaign. Although no Indian aircraft were lost to enemy fire after this point, the SAM threat remained high, and the Pakistanis fired more than 100 SAMs in the course of the conflict. Exacerbating the problems facing the aircrews was the paucity of intelligence. Not only had there been a lack of joint air-land planning but the Army had also failed to pass on the latest intelligence assessments of Pakistani strengths and dispositions. Much of the intelligence being used by the IAF during the first weeks of the campaign was derived from its own aerial reconnaissance. In contrast to the Army’s own organic aviation reconnaissance, which failed to detect any Pakistani activity in the previous months, the IAF’s imagery analysis had at least shown where most of the Pakistani dispositions were, and electronic surveillance of the area provided useful signals intelligence (SIGINT), in spite of the Pakistani’s increased signals security.

The most significant aerial action in support of the Indian 3rd and 8th Mountain Divisions occurred during the first two weeks of June. In order to prevent the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) from interfering with the fighting on the ground and Indian air support, the IAF maintained combat air patrols along the full length of the LOC and the Indo-Pakistani border, more widely. This was done as a precaution in case of a rapid escalation of the conflict. By this point, there was close coordination between the IAF and the Indian Army, and almost all the actions on the ground were preceded by air strikes. To begin with, the IAF was employing unguided weapons, but because of the problems with targeting in the mountainous terrain, the IAF quickly employed Mirage 2000H aircraft, which were capable of delivering laser-guided weapons. The change to precision weapons played a significant role in swinging the campaign in India’s favor, and by mid-June, the Indian mountain divisions had recaptured the high ground that gave direct line of sight onto the national highway to the north. Another significant aerial action occurred on 17 June, when IAF Mirages hit the Pakistanis’ main administrative and logistics hub at Muntho Dhalo, causing not just physical destruction but also dealing a major blow to Pakistani morale. Pakistani reports show that this attack marked the turning point in their campaign, as they were unable to sustain their operations after this point. As the weeks passed, the Indian mountain divisions recaptured one post after another, and the only occasions on which air support was not provided was when the weather precluded flying operations. Some strike operations were done at night, which also added to the psychological pressure being applied to the Pakistanis, who had not anticipated round-the-clock air attacks.

After the 1999 Kargil war a major serious of changes in the air doctrine was made. The 30 Billion US Dollars sphere included the fast tracking of the SU 30 MKIs.

Haldiram & Haldilal Co. :)

Note : some inputs were taken from the AIR University.
 
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Haldilal

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The New paradigm shift of the IAF air doctrine 2013.

The IAF intent to dominate the air power differentiate from the 1995 published air doctrine. It goes beyond just outlying the air doctrine. The current air doctrine makes a connection with the air and the national security. Airpower is viewed as an indicator of national power and is defined as comprising the “sum total of a nation’s aviation and related capabilities,” including civilian assets. The iaf6new air doctrine is a holistic way of building national security in the air and national defence. The new doctrine includes a new way of spectrum like diplomacy and national building through the new air doctrine.

The most important part of the new doctrin is not just the control of the startegic air corridors and assets. But the capinility of maneuver and deterrent. The IAF doctrine does not go as far as some previous British airpower doctrine, which suggests that control of the air is “an end in itself”; the argument the IAF puts forward is far more nuanced. It sees deterrence and control of the air as inextricably intertwined; the credibility of the air force is dependent upon the ability of that air force to maintain control of the air, but the ability to control the airspace means little if the deterrent value of the air force is limited. The phrase deterrent air defense encapsulates what is intended. The IAF has retained the COIN roles in the new air doctrine.

There are several aspects of air control not included in the Western air doctrines but included in the IAF air doctrine. This includes the protection of the air stations and this due to the ai stations are densely packed high value targets. The air assets on the ground are more densely consecrated and more vulnerable than in the air. The most important part of this doctrine is the treatment of the startegic effects and the deterrence. In India, discussions of strategic effect preceded the Kargil conflict, and, indeed, the subject appeared briefly in the previous IAF doctrine, but the conflict in 1999 prompted far greater consideration of airpower’s strategic role, not least because it helped to defuse a potential nuclear escalation. The principal aspirations for a new air doctrine comes from the china. The chinese build up in the Southern Tibet with the SIGNIT capabilities and the improvement in the infractures has promoted the Eastern Air Command for the deployments of the SU 30 MKIs in the eastern side. The commander of the Eastern Air Force at the time, Air Marshal Pranab Kumar Barbora, made the point that this reinforcement was designed to thwart any “misadventure” by the Chinese and a repeat of the 1962 conflict. While it was admitted that India could not match China’s numerical strength, it was felt that the IAF would provide a sufficiently strong “deterrent force” because of its force multiplying potential.

India sees the paks as a constant drain on its resources. The chinese threat has eclipsed the defense and security concern. The IAF previous air doctrine concentrated on the border defenses but with the ever increasing chinses threat. Implicit in this strategic reach is deterrence; India is no longer content to fight purely within its own borders when threatened and now talks in terms of protecting its security interests at a continental level and extending its range also in the maritime sphere from the Persian Gulf to the Straits of Malacca.

The new IAF air doctrine takes a emphasizes on the logistic an transportation the doctrine seems to go almost to the opposite extreme. It states “air power is inherently strategic in nature and its tactical application would only fritter away its prime advantage of creating strategic effects.” the most important part of this new air doctrine is the principal participant in the irregular warfare.

Haldiram & Haldilal Co. :)

Note : some inputs were taken from the AIR University.
 

Haldilal

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The IAF Air Doctrine through the lens of the Vetarans.

The battlefield.


The retired AVM Subramanian makes a important say in the Air Power through the changing paradigms. The IAF’s own refined understanding of it, two fundamental doctrinal shifts took place in the 2011 edition of IAF Doctrine (Subramaniam 2018).

The first point was to discard the sequential Warfare and adopt the Parallel Warfare.

The second point was to increase the role of the air assets in the lower end of the warfare spectrum.

The third point was to increase the joint warfare in the all terrains of the conflict.

The fourth point was the introduction of the Tactical Battle Area.

The fifth point was land centric air doctrine followed by the Martime air doctrine.

The AVM Subramanian points that the a doctrinal and technological asymmetry being created by China, mainly against the USA, but stops short of recommending a multi-domain response preparation from the Indian side. Another thrust in their article is on the strategic nature of airpower and that tactical application would only fritter away its prime advantage of creating strategic effects. In another part they state, “... the classification of an offensive air operation as ‘strategic’ is not determined by range, platform type or the weaponry used, but is determined by the objective or the purpose served.” The apporation of the martime strikes role plays an important role in this new air doctrine. But this should be done with a better intergatonof the martime assets. The issues may be a reflection of the previously doctrine of the IAF "Concept Thought" which emphasizes on the Air Defence fighter and the ignorance of other types of fighter role.

The Case for CAS.

Air Cmde NPS Bains point outs to the IAF thinking to the Close Air Support Roles. Air Cmde Bains starts with a dogmatic assertion that it is the least efficient application of air power, but qualifies that it may be the most critical for ensuring the success or survival of surface forces aka Anaconda. The problem is the use of ‘least’ in context of expected conflicts. The Bains forecast that the future air battles would be heavily laethel, destructive, with th enached power implementations In this battlefield of high fluidity, with no distinctive fronts, flanks and rear, the focus would be on joint application of air and land combat power. But is this template correct
in the Indian context of a nuclear Pakistan, Sino-Indian mountainous border, LICO in urban settings etc? Mountain warfare is most probable, and most of these characteristics do not apply or are modified. And as if by a tad late realisation, he acknowledges that tactical engagements are now often fought amongst non-combatant populations and increasingly in
urban areas, where situational awareness is no longer enough to conduct effective military operations; instead, commanders need to develop situational understanding.

Coercion and Startegic Air Power.

The Pape in bombing to win makes a case for the target selection being a follow up of strategy and objectives, and not serve as a basis for strategy. The choices and the selection of the wide range of targets from Douhet’s population centres, to industry and infrastructure, ground forces, to Warden’s leadership and command in the Gulf War.

The detterance theory in its classic from makes a clear distinction between the strategies for the punishment and denial. The denial is forced on the enemies military assets and anything to support its. The punishment startegy does not weakens the military. The pape states a wide examples of its. That while denial strategies may be effective on a military, it does not always produce desired coercion; but punishment strategies always fail to coerce. Pape believes that as a whole strategic bombing never succeeds, and effort is better spent on targeting the enemy’s military i.e. BAS or BAI. Targeting of military production facilities may be relevant only in the long-term.

The praticioner of the air power can be classified in the two category mostly been ‘men of action’ and a ‘can-do’ variety. A centennial appraisal of air power by AVM (retd) Kapil Kak, a former Deputy Director of Indian Defence & Strategic Analysis (think-tank), in 2001 is worth dissecting to see what has changed and what has not doctrinally. He starts with stating how for nearly a century since its inception, air power had a dominant role in the generation and successful enforcement of favourable asymmetry. Today, attributes of “high speed, long reach, quick response, and termination, technological intensity, precision fire power and shock-effect, without regard to frontiers and coastlines” do not need manned platforms in high-risk environments.

Haldiram & Haldilal Co. :)

Note : some inputs were taken from the Various Sources.
 
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Haldilal

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The IAF Helicopter Dictrine.

The short during highly confined fasst and intense conflicts are changing the helicopter use.
Though airpower would play a vital role, the boots on the ground and combat support missions of airpower would form the backbone of any success in such Op. The helicopter tailor made for the high altitude and for the month warfare are the need of the hour. Helicopter plays a vital role in the tatical mobility,logistic support, fire support, relief roles and special oprstions.

A strong case exists for quantitative and qualitative increase in light, light combat, medium and heavy lift helicopters in Indian inventory. It needs to be borne in mind that helicopters inherently are capable of multitasking and could serve, as they already do, in border infrastructure developments and disaster management. In terms of pilot training, there is a need to look for intense but low cost options like simulators, enhanced night capability and special skills which improves the ability of aircrew to adapt to new and changing situations. A core group of pilots should always be available to carry out the more demanding situations of special operations.

Helicopters in the mountain regions.

TBC. This section is still Under construction.
 

Haldilal

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The Air Operations Doctrine of 1962.

General B.M. Kaul says in his memoirs that the IAF was not used in close support, which was disputed by then IB Chief B.N. Mullik that Kaul had not asked for it. So what happened to the professional advice of the potency of airpower use? The Chief of the Air Staff had asked for using the Air Force, but concluded that it would endanger own troops. While Neville Maxwell’ in his book India’s China War maintains that Indian Govt never considered offensive air power for fear of Chinese retaliation against Indian cities, so Clearly in hindsight. AVM (retd) Arjun Subramaniam in India’s Wars says that “with joint Army Air Force structures in place at the corps level, and forward air controllers with the brigades, it is clear that the IAF brass was timid and diffident about forcefully articulating to both the Army and the political leadership that in an asymmetric situation on the ground, offensive air power could play a stabilising role, if not a decisive one. While the levels of Joint operationes in light of 1965 performance asked many question marks, there is no doubt that IAF leadership must be faulted for not making a forceful case.

AVM (retd) A.K. Tewary says that India could have defeated China in the 1962 war had its air force been used. According to him, top military and bureaucratic leadership of that time are to be blamed for over-estimating the capability of the Chinese Air Force. Tiwary says that Gen Kaul had conceded in his book that “we made a great mistake in not employing our air force in a close support role during these operations. While the work tries hard to show that IAF could not be faulted, there are large voids in his analysis. The cites that Canberras flew 22 photographic reconnaissance missions between October 13 and November 11 in 1962 over Aksai Chin, Tawang, Se la and Walong with some sorties at 300 feet above Chinese concentrations. No damage to these from Chinese anti-aircraft artillery was proof of poor capabilities.

The Air Marshal Raghvendran, then a Wing Commander and a staff officer, in the exact professional advice given to PM and RM about marginal capability of the Chinese air force operating from Tibet and beyond. But importantly there are no minutes or records of this advice. Similarly, he invokes the ‘thoughts’ of Air Vice Marshal Arjan Singh, then Air Officer Administration at Air HQ; yet no question on why this never came up till Arjan Singh took over as Chief of Air Staff, or even later. Interestingly, the cites of Gen Kaul who stated “Unfortunately, it was the reluctance on the part of the IAF to be able to mount offensive sorties as a legitimate exercise of self-defence which added to the fears of Government in Delhi. If the Air Staff had undertaken to do this, the political appreciation might have been different.” Even in Kargil, some 37 years later, similar echoes reigned true, at least according to the Indian Army. General Thorat’s pragmatic plan in 1959 of trapping the Chinese into our chosen killing ground was good professional advice based on cold military logic, but not politically correct.
 
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