Indian Air Force Will Have 35 To 36 Combat Squadrons By Middle Of 2030s, Said The IAF Chief
- According to the chief, the IAF will receive another ten 'Tejas' from the initial batch of 40 that will be delivered this year.
- According to the head, even if all planned acquisition proceeds without any delays or faults, the number of squadrons by 2035-36 will only reach 35, as opposed to the sanctioned 42.
To address the significant fleet shortage, the Indian Air Force plans to induct the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft ‘Tejas,’ and is also drafting a separate proposal with foreign partners for more fighter jets.
“It will be hard to keep watch and undertake combat air patrol across the country with the provided number of 31 squadrons,” Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari stated on Tuesday at the annual press conference ahead of Indian Air Force Day on October 8. He stated that the aim of 42 fighter squadrons will be maintained, even if it may take a decade to achieve.
While emphasising the expanding strength of the Pakistani and Chinese air forces, Vice Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Sandeep Singh stated unequivocally that the sanctioned number of 42 fighter jet squadrons was not under consideration. When it came to confronting larger opponents and operating over large geographical areas, the number of fighter squadrons was critically important.
With only 31 squadrons, it will be impossible to keep surveillance and conduct combat air patrol across the country, the commander told reporters in New Delhi. He stated that the aim of 42 fighter squadrons will be maintained, even if it may take a decade to achieve.
In answer to various concerns about the fighter squadrons deficit, the chief stated that an order for 83 Light Combat Aircraft ‘Tejas’ Mk 1A is already in place.
According to the chief, the IAF will receive another ten ‘Tejas’ from the initial batch of 40 that will be delivered this year.
In addition, the proposal to manufacture 114 medium-range fighter aircraft (MRFA) in India is being finalised based on technical specifications, and the Request for Proposal would be issued soon.
Why the delay?
The government has been in conversations with the OEM to increase indigenous content in fighter jets and to demonstrate a deeper commitment to ‘Make in India.’
Status of the additional Su-30 MKI and MiG-29
“The project to acquire an additional 12 Su-30 MKI and 21 MiG-29 has been postponed,” the chief responded to an inquiry.
Long-term acquisition Plans
He stated that the force was committed to Tejas Mk2 and that it will receive six squadrons as well as the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA). Both the Tejas Mk2 and the fifth generation AMCA are continuing in development.
Phase out plans
The IAF intends to retire three squadrons of MiG-21 Bison by 2024. Following that, six squadrons of the ageing Jaguar fighter fleet will be phased out beginning in 2025 and lasting until 2032. By the late following decade, three squadrons of the improved Mirage 2000 and MiG-29 fleets would be phased out.
In response to media inquiries, the IAF Chief stated that by the middle of the following decade, all of these aircraft will be numbered.
Position of the fighter fleet in IAF
The number of fighter jet squadrons has been reduced to 31. Each squadron has about 18 fighters.
The strength of fighter squadrons was reduced to 31 last month when the Srinagar-based MiG-21 Bison squadron was phased out.
The Indian Air Force has a total authorised strength of 42 fighter squadrons, of which 31 are French Rafales and indigenous LCA ‘Tejas.’
When will it be 42 squadrons?
According to the head, even if all planned acquisition proceeds without any delays or faults, the number of squadrons by 2035-36 will only reach 35, as opposed to the sanctioned 42. The emphasis is on technology and quality rather than numbers.