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December 17, 2017
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Dear Indian Air Force, We Are Proud to Have Your Air Cover

Published: October 2017
 

It is a proud moment for every Indian. Our Indian Air Force (IAF) is marking its 85th Birthday. Naturally, our heads are high. Congratulations to the Air Chief and all IAF Personnel.

The Air Force Day, celebrated on October 8 every year, is an occasion for the IAF to reassure the country that it is in charge to give us the protective air cover, and also an occasion for us, the people, to express our gratitude to its Officers and Men and Women.

In an interview with India Strategic, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, did of course reaffirm IAF’s commitment to the nation, appropriately reminding that IAF had done its duty during both peace and war, including in humanitarian relief efforts within India and abroad. He is the Father figure for the IAF Family, and naturally, he also laid stress on their welfare in education, health, living conditions and whatever.

He mentioned that IAF has been under transformation for some time, and much has been achieved. In fact, the new generation of pilots, both men and women, whether combat or transport, will be technologically qualified. All of them would be B Tech, for the simple reason that every aircraft and its related ground systems are sophisticated pieces of technology and electronics.

IAF was set up in 1932 and its first operational combat squadron was established in 1933 with propeller driven Wapiti aircraft. India was then ruled by Britain, and IAF was then called Royal Indian Air Force.

Much has changed since then.

All IAF combat squadrons have jet powered aircraft, although some need replacement. Over the next few years, IAF will get the French Rafale, one of the most modern contemporary fighters, followed by the latest variant of either Lockheed Martin F 16 (Block 70) or Swedish Saab’s Gripen. The onboard controls in fact might include hand-held devices like IPad or equivalent to maneuver and control an aircraft in flight.

A big concern for the Air Chief is the shortage of combat aircraft. India has been slow in modernizing the IAF fleets.

Nonetheless, the Government has ordered 36 French Rafale aircraft, and the encouraging report today, on this occasion, is that IAF is on the verge of issuing an RFI for 114 single engine combat aircraft.

The Government should make sure that enough funds are available to the IAF to buy the best of the aircraft WITH BEST OF THE ONBOARD TECHNOLOGIES, like the latest generation of Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) combat radar, Infra Red Search and Track (IRST) system, most modern air to air missiles as well as anti radiation missiles to attack hostile ground radars.

Netcentric ops are now a fact of air warfare and defence. Thankfully, much has been achieved on this front already.

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