A US think tank report has validated the concerns of the Vice Chief of the Indian Air Force (IAF), Air Marshal BS Dhanoa, that the IAF doesn’t have an ‘adequate’ number of fighter aircraft to simultaneously protect the western and north-eastern borders.
“Our numbers are not adequate to fully execute an air campaign in a two-front scenario. The probability of a two-front scenario is an appreciation which you need to do. But are the numbers adequate? No. The squadrons are winding down,” Dhanoa had said.
Vice Chief of IAF, Air Marshal BS Dhanoa, speaking at “Iron Fist 2016” excercise at Pokhran range nationaldefence
But what’s the concern:
In his 88-page report, Ashley Tellis, the top American expert on India and South Asia, argues that IAF is handicapped both by diminishing numerical strength and a troubled force structure, and its inability to resolve the two dilemmas satisfactorily.
He sad in addition to this, IAF’s troubled acquisition and development programs, threaten India’s air superiority over its rapidly modernising rivals, China and Pakistan.
The report “The Manifold Travails of the Indian Air Force
” argues that Indian air dominance is vital for deterrence stability in southern Asia and for preserving the strategic balance in the Indo-Pacific region.
“The IAF’s desire for 42-45 squadrons by 2027 — some 750-800 aircraft — is compelling, if India is to preserve the airpower superiority it has enjoyed in southern Asia since 1971,” it said, recommending that India needs to safeguard its regional air superiority over both Pakistan and China by mustering the requisite end strength and enhancing its extant operational advantages.
The IAF’s likelihood of reaching its 2027 goal with a high proportion of advanced fighters is poor, Tellis concluded in his report.