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The Indian Air Force Today

The Indian Air Force (IAF) today, having completed the Platinum Jubilee of dedicated service to the nation, is a modern, technology-intensive force distinguished by its commitment to excellence and professionalism. Keeping pace with the demands of contemporary advancements, the IAF continues to modernise in a phased manner and today it stands as a credible air power counted amongst the fore-most professional services in the world.

The primacy of Air Power will be a decisive factor in shaping the outcome of future conflicts. In line with this dictum, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has developed into a major 'Component of National Power', which can be applied quickly and decisively. The IAF has reoriented itself to a multi-role capability of platforms and equipment, along with multi-skill capability of personnel. The rapid economic growth of the country dictates the need to protect our security interests extending from the Persian Gulf to the Straits of Malacca.

Over the years the IAF has grown from a tactical force to one with transoceanic reach. The strategic reach emerges from induction of Force Multipliers like Flight Refuelling Aircraft (FRA), Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) and credible strategic lift capabilities. There is emphasis on acquiring best of technology through acquisitions or upgradation, be it aircraft, systems, precision missiles or net centricity. The main inductions and acquisitions by Indian Air Force are given in the following paras.

IAF has started upgrading its combat aircraft fleet since the last few years in order to enhance its operational capability and maintain its aircraft as modern weapon platforms, capable of meeting the present challenges posed by the security scenario in our region. Of the available fleet, MiG-21, MiG-27 and Jaguar aircraft have already been upgraded and Mirage-2000 and MiG-29 aircraft are planned for upgradation. The Indian Air Force is considering upgrade of its medium lift helicopters comprising Mi-8, Mi-17 and Mi-17-IVs, as also the AN - 32 transport aircraft, with the aim of improving their overall capability.

The IAF today is in the process of a most comprehensive modernisation plan. Over the next few years, the force would induct more Su-30 MKI aircraft, the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) and the Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA). There are plans to augment the helicopter and transport fleets too. The IAF is also in the process of acquiring radars in various categories to meet the Air Defence requirements, accurate and advanced weapons, Network Centric Warfare systems, etc, to meet its assigned tasks.
The Indian Air Force has seven commands, of which five are operational and two functional, namely :

• HQ Central Air Command, Allahabad
• HQ Eastern Air Command, Shillong
• HQ Western Air Command, New Delhi
• HQ Southern Air Command, Thiruvananthapuram
• HQ South-Western Air Command, Gandhi Nagar
• HQ Maintenance Command, Nagpur and
• HQ Training Command, Bangalore

Helicopters

The IAF's helicopter fleet has steadily increased in numbers over the past few years, blossoming from a handful of U.S. types in the 60s to over 500 French, Indian and Soviet built types. The pride of the force is, undoubtedly, the Mi-26 heavy lift helicopter which has been operated by No. 126 HU with outstanding results in the mountains of Northern India. The bulk of rotorcraft are Medium Lift Helicopters (MI-17/MI-17IV/MI-17V5 and Mi-8s) well over two hundred of these types serving in helicopter units through out the country, playing a vital logistic support role. Induction of the latest machine, the Mi-17 V5, is a quantum jump in our Medium Heli-lift capability in terms of the avionics, weapon systems as well as its hot and high altitude performance. Medium Lift Helicopters of IAF are operated for commando assault tasks, ferrying supplies and personnel to remote mountain helipads, carrying out SAR (Search and Rescue Operations) and logistic support tasks in the island territories, Siachen Glacier, apart from armed role.

The Chetak/Cheetah helicopter fleet has been the backbone in SAR, Casualty Evacuation and RTR (Route Transport Role) role in the IAF. To augment Cheetah helicopter operations in OP Meghdoot sectors, indigenously modified re-engined Cheetal have been inducted in the fleet. This indigenous helicopter has proved its worth and apart from reliability it has shown better load carrying capacity.

Of late, India has taken a conscious decision to go the indigenous development way in so far as procurement of military hardware is concerned. This can be best leveraged in the helicopter capability, as HAL has shown significant capability generation in the successful design and development of the ALH (Dhruv). ALH fleet in IAF has steadily grown from conventional ALH Mk-I to state of the art 'Glass' cockpit ALH Mk-III. ALH Mk-I has been effectively utilized for communication, SAR, Cas Evac roles.

It is also the prime machine for Sarang Helicopter Display Team, which projects the capability of indigenous helicopter apart from skill, motivation and training of IAF pilots. ALH Mk-III has been recent induction which undertakes SAR, Cas Evac and RTR. The Weapon System Integrated version, the ALH Mark IV, is also likely to be inducted into the IAF by 2017.

The first Attack Helicopter Squadron of IAF was raised as 125 (H) Sqn (GLADIATORS) on 01 Nov 1983 and equipped with Mi-25 helicopter Gunships. The Mi-35 was inducted in Apr 1990. 104 (H) Sqn was re-equipped with Mi-35 in 1990.

The Attack Helicopter fleet of IAF has a rich history of participating in operations since its induction. The AH has been deployed in IPKF operation in Sri Lanka, under UN at Sierra Leone and Democratic Republic of Congo under Chapter 7 of UN for Peace Enforcement. The machine and men of Gunship Sqns have done Yomen service for Indian Air Force and provided Tactical Foot Print to the Air Power.

The rotary wing capabilities of the IAF are poised to undergo a paradigm altering growth. Induction of the Chinook helicopter will be a boost to the nationís heavy heli-lift capability. The planned induction of Apache Attack Helicopters is yet another instance of the shift in the technology and capability level of the rotary wing fleet by IAF. The prowess of our Helicopter operations have been demonstrated in Uttarakhand very recently, and with all these new capabilities and systems being added on, the IAF will be truly poised to take on any challenges.

Trainer

The IAF replaced its HT-2 primary trainers with the HPT-32 (Deepak), the new piston engined trainer being utilised at the Basic Flying Training School at Allahabad since January 1988 and at Air Force Academy at Dundigal. Flight cadets then proceed to the Air Force Academy,  Dundigal  for instruction on the HJT 16 Kiran, first on the Mk. I/IA and then on the armed Mk II version or the Polish origin Iskra, for tactical flying. After commissioning, pilots are streamed to various conversion units, depending on their selection and proficiency. Future fighter pilots are sent to operational conversion units (now known as the MOFTU or MIG  Operational Flying Training Unit) where operational and tactical flyng is conducted on MIG 21.  Thus are born the IAF's leaders and even future spacemen, like Sqn Ldr Rakesh Sharma, India's first cosmonaut who participated in a joint space flight with the Soviets in 1984.

OUR STRENGTH

 

SU-30 MKI : Twin seater twin engine multirole fighter of Russian origin which carries One X 30mm GSH gun alongwith 8000 kg external armament.  It is capable of carrying a variety of medium-range guided air to air missiles with active or semi-active radar or Infra red homing close range missiles.  It has a max  speed of 2500 km/hr (Mach 2.35).
SU-30
SU-30 MKI
Mirage-2000 : A single seater air defence and multi-role fighter of French origin powered by a single engine can attain max speed of 2495 km/hr(Mach 2.3).  It  carries two 30 mm integral cannons and two matra super 530D medium-range and two R-550 magic II close combat missiles on external stations.
Dassault-Breguet Mirage 2000 H
Mirage-2000
MiG-29 : Twin engine, single seater air superiority fighter aircraft of Russian origin capable of attaining max. speed of 2445 km per hour (Mach-2.3).  It  has a combat ceiling of 17 km.  It carries a 30 mm cannon alongwith four R-60 close combat and two R-27 R medium range radar guided missiles.
MiG - 29 B MiG-29
MiG-27 : Single engine, single seater tactical strike fighter aircraft of Russian origin having a max. speed of 1700 km/hr (Mach 1.6).  It carries one 23 mm six-barrel rotary integral cannon and can carry upto 4000 kg of other armament externally.
MiG - 27 ML
MiG-27
MiG-21 BISON : Single engine, single seater multirole fighter/ground attack aircraft of Russian origin which forms the back-bone of the IAF.   It has a max speed of 2230 km/hr (Mach 2.1) and carries   one 23mm twin barrel cannon with four R-60 close combat missiles.
MiG - 21 bison
MiG-21 BISON
Jaguar : A twin-engine, single seater deep penetration strike aircraft of Anglo-French origin which has a max. speed of 1350 km /hr (Mach 1.3).   It has two 30mm guns and can carry two R-350 Magic CCMs (overwing) alongwith 4750 kg of external stores (bombs/fuel).
Jaguar
Jaguar
C-130J : The aircraft is capable of performing paradrop, heavy drop, casuality evacuation and can also operate from short and semi prepared surfaces. C-130J is the heaviest aircraft to land at DBO in Aug 2013.
C-130J Hercules
C-130J
C-17 : The aircraft is capable of carrying a payload of 40-70 tons up to a distance of 4200-9000 km in a single hop.
C-17 Globemaster
C-17
IL-76 : A four engine heavy duty/long haul military transport aircraft of Russian origin with a max speed of 850 km/hr.  It has a twin 23 mm cannon in tail turret and capacity to carry 225 paratroopers or 40 tonnes freight,  wheeled or tracked armoured vehicles.
Illushin Il-76 MD
IL-76
AN-32 : Twin engine turboprop, medium tactical transport aircraft of Russian origin with a crew of five and capacity to carry 39 paratroopers or max load of 6.7 tonnes.  It has a max cruise speed of 530 km/hr. 
Antonov AN-32
AN-32
EMBRAER : The main role of employment of this executive Jet Air craft is to convey VVIPs/VIPs to destinations within India and abroad. Air HQ Communication Squadron operates this aircrafts and it has maintained a flawless incident/accident free track record till date.
Embraer (EMB-145 AEW&C)
EMBRAER
AVRO : Twin engine turboprop, military transport and freighter of British origin having a capacity of 48 paratroopers or 6 tonnes freight and max   cruise speed of 452 km/hr.
Avro
AVRO
Dornier : Twin engine turboprop, logistic air support staff transport aircraft of German origin capable of carrying 19 passengers or 2057 kg freight.   It has a max speed of 428 km/hr.
Dornier
Dornier
Boeing 737-200 : Twin engine turbofan, VIP passenger aircraft of American origin with total seating capacity of upto 60 passengers. It has a max cruise speed of 943 km/hr.
HAL 737-200
Boeing 737-200
MI-25/MI-35 : Twin engine turboshaft, assault and anti armour helicopter capable of carrying 8 men assault squad  with four barrel 12.7 mm rotary gun in nose barbette and upto 1500 Kg of external ordnance including Scorpion anti-tank missiles. It has a max cruise speed of  310 km/hr.
Mi-25/35
MI-25/35
MI-26 : Twin engine turboshaft, military heavy lift helicopter of Russian origin with carrying capacity of 70 combat equipped troops or 20,000 kg payload.  It has a max speed of 295 km/hr.
MiL Mi-26
MI-26
MI-17 V5 : The Mi-17 V5 is a potent helicopter platform, equipped with modern avionics and glass cockpit instrumentation. They are equipped with state-of-art navigational equipment, avionics, weather radar and are NVG-compatible.
Mi-17 V5
MI-17 V5
Chetak : Single engine turboshaft, light utility French helicopter with capacity of 6 passengers or 500 kg load.  It has a max speed of 220 km/hr.
HAL/Aerospatiale Alouette III (Chetak)
Chetak
Cheetah : Single engine turboshaft, FAC/casevac helicopter of French origin having capacity to carry 3 passengers or 100 kg external sling loads.  It has max cruise speed of 121 km/hr and can climb to 1 km in 4 minutes.
HAL/Aerospatiale SA 315B Lama (Cheetah)
Cheetah
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