A Major Challenge For Indian Air Force : The Declining Squadron Strength
The prestigious Indian Air Force ranks fourth among the airforces of the world. This Elite Force has always maintained its pride in the eyes of the countrymen. And this is due to its participation in variance National, international and humanitarian operations. But if we see on the other side of the coin, there are various challenges for it and it is necessary to overcome them for the security of the country and maintaining the pride of India also. And one such alarming challenge is the declining squadron strength of the Indian Air force.
In another two years, the IAF will be left with an alarmingly low 26 squadrons of fighter aircraft against an authorisation of 42. This is the estimation even after the timely completion of all the scheduled supplies, including of Rafale and Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas. Around the same time, the Pakistan Air Force will have 25 fighter squadrons. While China’s PLA Air Force have the capacity to bear 42 squadrons against India.
A minimum of 42 squdrons are necessary do dominate a two-front conflict from China and Pakistan. The last time the IAF had the full complement of 42 squadrons was nearly 17 years ago.
This is due to mainly the following reasons:
- The gradual decommissioning of obsolete aircraft over time.
- The loss of aircraft in crashes.
- And above all, massive delays in purchases of new aircraft.
- The IAF is committed to get six squadrons of LCA Tejus from HAL. While HAL hopes to provide 18 aircraft per year, it has not been able to provide even half that number so far. So, drawing attention to this can solve the problem to some extent.
- The other option is to import more aircrafts. IAF will get two squadrons of Rafale by 2023. And just like that many proposals are on the planning phase only. The government needs to hasten these deals without much interference from the politics.
- And lastly, some privatization in the defence sector can help Indian defence grow and modernise faster. The programs like ‘Make In India’ and FDI(foreign direct investment) will certainly help India to maintain its supremacy.