Indian Air Force

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  • Vipin Vijayan asked: Should India have invested billions in Rafale? What's the future of Tejas? Will the Rafale really plug IAF's squadron gap?

    Reply: Refer to the following earlier and current publications by IDSA faculty on the issue:

    Rafale MMRCA Deal: Last Minute Glitches?
    By Vivek Kapur, August 30, 2012, at

    Transformation of the Indian Air Force over the Next Decade (Issue Brief)
    By Vivek Kapur, June 13, 2012, at

    Major Issues of Immediate Concern for the Indian Air Force
    By Vivek Kapur, June 11, 2012, at

    The Rafale: An Opportunity Towards Indigenous Aircraft Design And Manufacture
    By Vivek Kapur, February 17, 2012, at

    MMRCA: Counter Point,
    By Ramesh Phadke, February 13, 2012, at

    The air force gets its ideal platform
    By Ajey Lele, February 11, 2012, at

    Rafale Wins the MMRCA Competition
    By Ramesh Phadke, February 6, 2012, at

    Dogfight: India’s MMRCA Decision (Book review)
    By Ramesh Phadke, February 7, 2011, at

    MMRCA: A difficult choice for the IAF
    By Ramesh Phadke, May 19, 2010, at

    Rafale: the doomed French bird
    By Guillem Monsonis, May 14, 2009, at

    Rafale MMRCA Deal: Last Minute Glitches?

    The Rafale deal is especially important as it is IAF’s best bet to stem and even reverse the recent and continuous fall in the combat aircraft squadrons fielded.

    August 30, 2012

    Stealth and Counter-stealth Some Emerging Thoughts and Continuing Debates

    If there is one dimension in the air attack–air defence continuum that is riding high on the wings of enabling edge technologies, it is the use of stealth, both in the offensive and defensive domains.

    July 2012

    Transformation of the Indian Air Force over the Next Decade

    The ongoing transformation involving the induction of advanced weapon and combat support systems is aimed at developing the IAF’s capabilities to deliver what is required of it.

    June 13, 2012

    Major Issues of Immediate Concern for the Indian Air Force

    The multitude of challenges the IAF faces during its ongoing transformation ranging from a high accident rate to cyber warfare need to be addressed to ensure that it remains an effective fighting force.

    June 11, 2012

    Technology For The Future IAF: The Case For Hypersonic Craft

    The re-equipment of the Indian Air Force (IAF) for the medium- to long-term requires a careful look at the costs and technical problems associated with Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA). The country may gain from examining alternative means of achieving the benefits in capability offered by FGFA through the possibly cheaper hypersonic route, especially if pursued indigenously.

    March 09, 2012

    Harry asked: How the Indian Air Force could have been better utilized to support the ground troops during Operation Vijay?

    Anit Mukherjee replies: The war in Kargil was unprecedented on several levels. That the Pakistani army would attempt such an audacious but strategically inept operation was not envisaged by any Indian political, intelligence or military official. As a result, the war and its geographical location came as a complete surprise. Perhaps, due to that, both the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force had never planned, trained or equipped themselves to fight the war that they did. The unique terrain and the extreme altitude also presented formidable challenges. Despite that, the Indian Air Force (IAF) performed ably as its pilot went in harm’s way and some paid the ultimate sacrifice. Thus, there were significant problems in Army-Air Force operations during this war. To begin with, though the three services in India follow the “coordination model” of jointness, they lack interoperability. In simple words, the IAF lacked the capability to communicate with ground troops. As a result, the strike missions flown were pre-planned with fixed time-over-targets (ToTs). Both the Air Force and the Army had not practiced or trained with hand held laser designators. Surprisingly, till date their drills are based on Ground Liaison Officers and Air Control Team (ACT) with tentacles that require dedicated and scarce Air Force officers to enable robust cooperation. This is a concept inherited from the World War Two era as most modern militaries have taken advantage of advanced communications equipment to practice better interoperability.

    The employment of Air Force helicopters in an attack role has been the subject of a controversy due to the shooting down of a Mi-8. Air Force officials contend that the Army was wrong to request for helicopters while some in the Army maintain that the Air Force was reluctant to engage in offensive operations.

    Overall, the war in Kargil presented unique challenges and junior officers and men in both the Army and the Air Force performed admirably. There were disagreements between senior officials, some of it perhaps unavoidable, that vitiated working relations to some extent. Unfortunately, however, joint lessons learnt were never commissioned by either the Chiefs of Staff Committee or the Ministry of Defence, as a result we know very little about the joint conduct of operations.

    To put it in a more direct manner, the answer to your question will only be known when the operational documents of both services are studied or the participants interviewed. That unfortunately, while still possible, has not happened.

    Ajay Lele’s Article Published in ‘The Pioneer’

    February 13, 2012

    Research Fellow, IDSA, Wg. Cdr. Ajay Lele’s analytical report ‘The air force gets its ideal platform’ was published in ‘The Pioneer’, one of the leading English dailies, on February 11, 2012. The report is a comment on the selection process for IAF’s medium, multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) which ended last week with the selection of the Dassault Rafale.

    Click here to read full article

    F-35 is not an Ideal Choice for India

    F-35 is not an ideal choice because of the delay in its developmental schedule, a tight production line, prohibitive cost, India’s own efforts to jointly develop and produce a fifth generation fighter with Russia, and little technological or industrial benefits that would accrue.

    November 23, 2011

    Establishing India's Military Readiness Concerns and Strategy

    Military readiness is perhaps one of the least studied and understood concepts in the field of strategic studies. In the absence of any significant literature in the public domain, defence policy makers and practitioners worldwide tend to define military readiness in several different ways.