Definitions

Bangladeshi Air Force

Indian Air Force

The Indian Air Force (Devanāgarī भारतीय वायु सेना IAST: Bhartiya Vāyu Senā) is the air arm of the Armed Forces of India and has the prime responsibility of conducting aerial warfare and securing the Indian airspace. It was established on October 8, 1932 as the Indian Air Force. It was granted the prefix "Royal" in 1945 in recognition of its services during the Second World War. The prefix Royal was dropped after India became a Republic in 1950. With its headquarters in New Delhi, the Indian Air Force has a strength of approximately 170,000 personnel and 1,430 combat aircraft (2006 figure) making it the fourth largest air force in the world after US, Russia and China.

History

Indian Air Force's No.1 Squadron came into being on April 1 1933. The squadron consisted of five Indian pilots, one RAF Commanding officer and four Westland Wapiti biplanes.

World War II (1939-1945)

During World War II, the IAF played an instrumental role in thwarting the advance of the Japanese army in Burma, where its first air strike was on the Japanese military base in Arakan. It also carried out strike missions against the Japanese airbases at Mae Hong Son, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai in northern Thailand.

First Kashmir War 1947

During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947, the IAF conducted a paratrooping operation from Safdarjang, then known as Willingdon Airfield, to Srinagar airfield at 09:30 hours IST on October 27. This was the most instrumental action of the war as the paratroopers played a crucial role in blocking the advance of Pakistan militants and Pakistani regular soldiers in the disguise of tribals.

Congo Operation 1961

Belgium's 75-year colonial rule of the Congo ended abruptly on June 30, 1960. Unable to control the deteriorating situation in its former African colony, Belgium asked the United Nations for assistance. India was one of the first UN-members to respond to the initial appeal for help and sent IAF Canberra aircraft as a part of the UN-led mission in Congo.

Indo-China Conflict 1962

In 1962, border disputes escalated into full-scale war between India and China. Indian military and civilian leadership failed to organise and co-ordinate the air assaults efficiently, eventually the air force was never used during the indo-china war.

Second Kashmir War 1965

India officially stated that 35 IAF planes were lost while shooting down 73 PAF aircraft. According to Indian figures, the overall attrition rate was 2.16% for Pakistan Air Force and 1.49% for IAF. India also pointed that despite PAF claims of losing only a squadron of combat craft, Pakistan had been seeking urgent help from Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Turkey and China, for additional aircraft within 10 days of the war.

Growth and Re-organization (1965 - 1972)

After the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965, the IAF underwent a series of changes. In 1966, the Para Commandos regiment was created. With an intention of increasing its logistics supply and rescue operations ability, the IAF inducted 72 Avro 748s which were built by Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) under license from Avro. The aircraft were modified to play a variety of roles and some were later (starting 1987) fitted with a large radome to act as a Airborne Early Warning platform. India started to lay more stress on indigenous manufacture of fighter aircraft. A total of 147 HAL HF-24 Marut, designed by famed aerospace engineer Kurt Tank, were inducted into the air force. HAL also started working on a new improved version of Folland Gnat, known as HAL Ajeet.

During the late 1960s, the IAF also started inducting MiG-21s and Sukhoi Su-7s fighters which had a top speed of Mach 2. The induction of these advanced fighter jets was the beginning of close collaboration between India and the Soviet Union. With Soviet help, coupled with increasing role of Hindustan Aeronautics, the Indian Air Force was now rated as one of the most sophisticated air forces in Asia.

Bangladesh Liberation War 1971

The professional standards, capability and flexibility of the newly re-organized Indian Air Force were soon put to test in December 1971 when India and Pakistan went to war over erstwhile East Pakistan. At the time, the IAF was under the command of Air Chief Marshal Pratap Chandra Lal. On November 22, 10 days before the start of a full-scale war, four PAF F-86 Sabre jets attacked Indian and Mukti Bahini positions near the Indian-Bangladeshi border in the Battle of Garibpur, and hostilities commenced. In what became the first ever dogfight over Bangladeshi skies, three of the 4 PAF Sabres were shot down by IAF Gnats. December 3 saw the formal declaration of war following massive preemptive strikes by the Pakistan Air Force against Indian Air Force installations in the west. The PAF targets were Indian bases in Srinagar, Ambala, Sirsa, Halwara and Jodhpur on the lines of Israeli Operation Focus. But the plan failed as the Indians had anticipated such a move and no major losses were suffered.

The Indian Air Force was quick to respond to Pakistani air-strikes. Within the first two weeks, the IAF had carried out more than 4,000 sorties in East Pakistan and provided successful air cover for the advancing Indian army in East Pakistan. IAF also assisted the Indian Navy in its operations against the Pakistani Navy and Maritime Security Agency in the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea. In the west, the air force destroyed 50 tanks and 40 APCs in the famed Battle of Longewala. The IAF pursued strategic bombing by destroying oil installations in Karachi, the Mangla Dam and gas plant in Sindh. As the IAF achieved complete air superiority over the eastern wing of Pakistan within a few days, the ordnance factories, runways, and other vital areas in East Pakistan were severely crippled. In the end, the IAF played a pivotal role in the victory for the Indian Armed Forces leading to the liberation of Bangladesh. In addition to the overall strategic victory, the IAF had also claimed 94 Pakistani aircraft destroyed, with 45 IAF aircraft lost. However later findings showed the opposite in Pakistan's favour. The IAF had however, flown over 7000 combat sorties on both East and West fronts and its overall sortie rate numbered over 15000. Comparatively, the PAF was flying fewer sorties by the day fearing loss of planes. Towards the end of the war, IAF's transport planes dropped leaflets over Dhaka urging the Pakistani forces to surrender; East Pakistani sources note that as the leaflets floated down, the morale of the Pakistani troops sunk.

Operation Meghdoot 1984

Operation Meghdoot was the name given to the preemptive strike launched by the Indian Military to capture most of the Siachen Glacier, in the disputed Kashmir region. Launched on April 13, 1984, this military operation was unique as it was the first assault launched in the world's highest battlefield. The military action was quite successful as Indian troops managed to gain two-thirds of the glacier with the rest coming under Pakistani control.

Operation Cactus 1988

In November 1988, the People's Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE) comprising about 200 secessionists invaded Maldives. At the request of the President of Maldives, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Indian Armed Forces with assistance of R&AW launched a military campaign to restore government rule in Maldives. On the night of November 3, 1988, the Indian Air Force airlifted a parachute battalion group from Agra and flew them non-stop over 2,000 kilometres (1,240 mi) to Maldives. The Indian paratroopers landed at Hulule and secured the airfield and restored the Government rule at Malé within hours. The brief, bloodless operation, labelled Operation Cactus, also involved the Indian Navy.

Kargil 1999

During the Kargil War with Pakistan, the Indian Air Force is said to have proved the decisive force in accelerating the end of the conflict. It successfully provided considerable air-cover for Indian troops fighting against Pakistani soldiers and also carried out air assaults against enemy forces in Kashmir. Most notable were the IAF's Mirage 2000 aircraft, which carried out surgical operations to assist ground troops in securing the strategically crucial Tiger Hill from its Pakistani captors. The IAF also carried out several operations to provide essential supplies to the ground troops. During the conflict, one IAF MiG-27 and an IAF MiG-21 were claimed shot down by Pakistani air defence missiles. The MiG-21M was on a search operation to find the MiG-27s crash site, when it was shot down. Later, an Mi-17 helicopter was shot down by a shoulder-held missile of the Pakistan army with the loss of all its onboard crew.

After the loss of Mig-27 & Mig-21M during the initial stages of theKargil War the Indian Air Force MiG-29s provided fighter escort for Mirage 2000s dropping laser-guided bombs (LGBs) on enemy targets. On occasions, IAF MiG-29s armed with beyond-visual-range (BVR) air-to-air missiles were able to lock on to PAF F-16s, forcing the latter to disengage, as at the time Pakistan F-16 aircraft were not equipped with BVR missiles. As a result, the PAF restricted itself to flying combat air patrols over Pakistani territory, and in the absence of a threat from PAF interceptors, the IAF was able to deliver unimpeded strikes on Pakistani positions and supply dumps.

Atlantique Incident

On August 10 1999, a Pakistan Navy French-built naval Breguet Atlantic was flying over the Rann of Kutch area and was shot down by two IAF MiG-21 jets killing all 16 aboard.

IAF air staff

With its headquarters in New Delhi, the Indian Air Force has a strength of 170,000 personnel and 1430 combat aircraft (2006 figure).

The Officers of the IAF are commissioned in one of the following branches:

  • Flying
  • Engineering
  • Administration
  • Logistics
  • Accounts
  • Education
  • Meteorological
  • Medical & Dental Branch

Rank structure

The highest rank attainable in the IAF is Marshal of the Indian Air Force conferred by the President of India only after exceptional service (Equivalent to Field Marshall in the Indian Army). MIAF Arjan Singh is the only officer to have achieved this rank. The head of the Indian Air Force is the Chief of the Air Staff. The current Air Chief Marshal is Fali Homi Major.

Officer

The various ranks of personnel within the Indian Air Force are listed below in descending order:

Airmen

During its formation, the rank structure of airmen was based on the British model. Over the years the rank structure has seen significant changes.

Civilian

Almost all the commands have some percentage of civilian strength which are Central Govt. Employees. These are regular ranks which are prevalent in ministries. They are usually not posted outside their stations and are helpful in administration and usual office and technical work. More than 250 different designations exists.

Most common designations of civil administration of Civilians are below:-

CGO (Civilian Gazetted Officer)

Structure of the IAF

Insignia

Ensign

Crest

Roundel

Fin Flash
The head of the Indian Air Force, Chief of the Air Staff, is assisted by six officers: the Vice Chief of the Air Staff, the Deputy Chief of the Air Staff, the Air Officer in Charge of Administration, the Air Officer in Charge of Personnel, the Air Officer in Charge of Maintenance, and the Inspector General of Flight Safety.

Commands

The Indian Air Force currently operates seven Commands. Each Command is headed by a Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief in the rank of Air Marshal.
Commands HQ Location Current AOC-in-C
Western Air Command Subroto Park, New Delhi Air Marshal P K Barbora
Eastern Air Command Shillong, Meghalaya Air Marshal .........
Central Air Command Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh Air Marshal Pradeep Vasant Naik
Southern Air Command Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala Air Marshal Suresh Chand Mukul
South Western Air Command Gandhinagar, Gujarat Air Marshal S S Dalal
Training Command Bangalore, Karnataka Air Marshal G S Chaudhary
Maintenance Command Nagpur, Maharashtra Air Marshal Nayyar

Aerospace Command

The IAF is setting up an aerospace command. This command will have space technology including satellites available to them. This command is said to be utilised by all the three services of the Indian armed forces and also for civilian purposes by ISRO

Wings

Wing is a static formation below the level of the Commands and is an intermediate between Command and Squadron. A Wing generally consists of various IAF Squadrons and Helicopter Units and along with the Forward Base Support Units (FBSU), it is responsible for maintaining the installation. FBSUs do not have or host any Squadrons or Helicopter units but act as transit airbases for routine operations. In times of war, they can become full fledged air bases playing host to various Squadrons.

Currently, 47 Wings and 19 FBSUs make up the IAF

Squadrons

Squadrons are the field units and formations attached to static locations. In other words, a Flying Squadron is a sub-unit of an air force station which carries out the primary task of the IAF. All fighter squadrons are headed by the Commanding Officer with the rank of Wing Commander. Some Transport squadrons and Helicopter Units are headed by the Commanding Officer with the rank of Group Captain.

IAF Bases

The IAF operates over 60 air bases, with more being built or planned. They are grouped under one of the five Regional Air Commands. In addition, the IAF also operates the Farkhor Air Base in Tajikistan.

Western Air Command

The largest Air Command. It operates 16 Air bases from Punjab to Uttar Pradesh

Eastern Air Command

It operates 15 Air bases in Eastern and North-eastern India.

Central Air Command

Operates 7 Air Bases in Madhya Pradesh and surrounding states of central India.

Southern Air Command

A strategically important Air command, in line with India's latest doctrine of protecting the vital shipping routes. It operates 9 Air bases in South India and 2 in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

South Western Air Command

The front line of defence against Pakistan, this important Command operates 12 Forward Air Bases in Rajasthan and Gujarat.

IAF Aircraft

The Indian Air Force has a strength of 1430 combat aircraft. Most of the IAF's fighter jets are of French, Soviet/Russian and British origin, with designs by the latter two countries being constructed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited under licence.

Air superiority and Multi-role combat aircraft

These are aircraft for strike, offensive support, air defence and superiority purposes. The IAF currently possesses several multi-role fighter jets that perform these functions. The Sukhoi Su-30MKI (MKI: 'Multifunctional Commercial - Indian') is the IAF's prime air superiority fighter. The Su-30K variant was first acquired in 1996. In October 2004, the IAF signed a multi-billion US$ contract with Sukhoi according to which Hindustan Aeronautics Limited was given the licence to manufacture 140+ Su-30MKI's with full technology transfer. HAL plans to manufacture about 15 of these aircraft annually. The twin seater, multi-role fighter has a maximum speed of 2500 km/h (Mach 2.35) and has a service ceiling of 20,000 metres. The aircraft, with one mid-air refueling, can travel as far as 8000 km, making it an effective platform to deliver nuclear weapons. In February, 2007 India ordered 40 additional Su-30MKI combat aircraft.

Single-seater Mirage 2000s and MiG-29s serve in both strike and defence squadrons. The MiG-29 (NATO:Fulcrum) has a top speed of 2445 km/h (Mach 2.3) and is armed with a 30 mm cannon along with R-60 & R-27 R missiles. Capable of flying at 2500 km/h (Mach 2.3), the Mirage 2000-H is the IAF's prime ground-attack fighter jet while the double seater Mirage 2000-TH can also play the role of an effective interceptor aircraft. This aircraft can carry a wide range of weaponry including two 30 mm integral cannons, two Matra super 530D medium-range missiles and two R550 Magic close combat missiles. Four hundred and Fifty multi-role MiG-21 combat aircraft have been serving the IAF for the past two decades. The air force plans to eventually replace its remaining 250 or so MiG-21s with the indigenously-built LCA HAL Tejas starting 2010.

Strike, attack and offensive support aircraft

Squadrons of Jaguar IS and MiG-27 aircraft serve as the IAF's primary ground strike force. The twin-engine Jaguar IB, with a top speed of Mach 1.3, is capable of carrying nuclear weapons. The IAF currently possess 100 Jaguar IS and 8 maritime strike Jaguar IM aircraft. The single-seater MiG-27 carries one GSh-6-30 six-barrelled 30 mm cannon, 4000 kg of general-purpose ordnance, SPPU-22 and SPPU-6 gun pods, and various guided air-to-surface missiles.

Reconnaissance and Airborne Early Warning aircraft

Various unmanned aircraft are used for reconnaissance. In 2004, the IAF ordered 3 IAI PhalconAirborne Early Warningradar system from Israel Aerospace Industries, which is considered to be the most advanced AEW&C system in the world, before the introduction of American-made Wedgetail. The air force will use 3 newly-acquired Ilyushin Il-76 Phalcon as a platform for these radar.

The IAF used to operate a fleet of MiG-25 (Foxbat) R, U reconnaissance aircraft until 2006. The high-speed interceptor aircraft carried four R-40 (AA-6 'Acrid') air-to-air missiles, two R-23 (AA-7 'Apex') and four R-60 (AA-8 'Aphid') or R-73 (AA-11 'Archer'). The MiG-25, in service since the late 1980s, were decommissioned from service in 2006. The IAF also used the English Electric Canberra aircraft for reconnaissance and photoreconnaissance missions during the Kargil war. The Canberras were originally used as Bombers, and served in that role in the 1965 and 1971 wars.

Transport aircraft

The IAF currently operates 25 Ilyushin Il-76 for military transport duties such as tactical and strategic airlift, at all operational levels. The Il-76 MD is a strategic airlifter with a payload of 95,000 lb and a range of over 5,000 km (2,700 nm; 3,100 statute miles). In 2003, the IAF also purchased 6 IL-78MKI aircraft from Russia which were fitted with ARP-3 aerial refueling pods from Israel.

IAF has a fleet of 64 Avro 748 which has a payload of 5,136 kg (11,323 lb) and has a range of 1,715 km (926 nm; 1,066 mi). The air force also operates a fleet of 94 twin-engined turboprop Antonov An-32 and 73 Dornier Do 228 utility aircraft.

Unmanned aerial vehicles

The primary role of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) is to provide aerial surveillance and reconnaissance. However, DRDO, ADA and HAL are also developing a range of Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles. The IAF currently operates IAI Malat-built Searcher MkII and Heron UAVs. Israel Aircraft Industries and Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), India's leading unmanned aerial vehicle research agency are also jointly developing three new UAVs.

UAVs can also be used as a pilot-less target aircraft. HAL Lakshya, indigenously-developed pilotless target aircraft, was inducted into the IAF in July 2005. Another UAV, the HAL Nishant Remote Piloted Vehicle (RPV) has also been developed, with an endurance of over 3 hours. The UAV can be used for carrying out ground attacks and aerial surveillance. It will be inducted into the Indian Army by 2007. Another smaller UAV, known as the Kapothaka is also being developed by the Aeronautical Development Agency.

Support helicopters

An important objective of the IAF is to support ground troops by providing air-cover and by transporting men and essential commodities across the battlefield. The list of helicopters currently in service with the IAF:

On October 15, 2006 India agreed to acquire 80 Mi-17 helicopters from the Russian Federation in a deal worth approximately US$662 million. The new and improved HAL Dhruv, complete with the more powerful Shakti engine and glass cockpit, came on stream in 2007.

Training aircraft

The Indian Air Force currently operates around 250 MiG-21 aircraft. The IAF initially planned to replace the MiG-21 fleet with indigenously-built HAL Tejas aircraft by 2006. However, the target could not be met due to developmental delays and a U.S. sanction, following the Pokhran tests, which blocked the delivery of GE F404 engines - a crucial component of the aircraft.

In 2004, the IAF placed an order for 66 Hawk Mk 132 Advanced Jet Trainers in a deal worth over 1 billion GBP, with deliveries beginning in November, 2007 and induction in February, 2008. Another order for up to 40 more of the aircraft is expected to be placed with BAE Systems in 2008. Pilot instructors and engineers have already been trained in the UK, and the aircraft will go into 'Stage III training' service in mid-2008. The supply of these advanced trainer aircraft will bring to an end the use of the MiG-21 as a training jet. IAF suffered accidents as fighter pilots graduated from basic jet trainers to supersonic jets without intermediary training, and the Hawks were purchased to fill the slot. All 10 Advanced Jet Trainers Hawk delivered by Britain were grounded after one of them skidded off the runway while taking off in Karnataka. Both its Indian and British pilots were safe. The accident occurred at 12.40 p.m. Tuesday April 27 2008 at the Flying Training Establishment at Bidar, IAF spokesman Wing Commander Mahesh Upasini said. “The (plane was on) a training mission. An inquiry has been ordered into the accident.” IAF sources said that an Indian and a British pilot were in the cockpit. The sources said the prima facie reason appeared to be a technical fault. The fleet of 10 Hawks, purchased off the shelf from Britain, have been grounded until an inquiry is held. The 10 Hawks were inducted into the IAF Feb 24. Of the 66 AJTs, the IAF had contracted to buy from the British BAE systems at a cost of Rs.80 billion, 24 are being acquired in flyaway condition. The rest will be manufactured under license by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). BAE Systems and HAL are scheduled to complete the delivery of all 66 aircraft by 2011.

India also manufactures less-sophisticated HAL HJT-16 Kiran and this aircraft will be replaced with the advanced HJT-36. IAF uses HPT-32 Deepak for basic training.

Future Aircraft

The Indian Air Force currently operates around 250 MiG-21 aircraft. On account of metal fatigue and dated equipment, several MiG-21s used in training roles have crashed over the past six years, killing over 50 IAF pilots. Also, they are nearing the end of their service life having been in the IAF for many decades and are being decommissioned at an increasing pace. The IAF initially planned to replace the MiG-21 fleet with indigenously-built HAL Tejas aircraft by 2006. However, the target could not be met due to developmental delays and a US sanction, following the Pokhran-II nuclear tests, which blocked the delivery of GE F404 engines - a crucial component of the LCA.

The Indian Air Force has a requirement for combat aircraft to replace the MiG-21 in service. The Mirage-2000 were considered as a replacement. However, Dassault announced that it has shut down the assembly line of the Mirage-2000. Hence the IAF included the Mig-29M/M2, Gripen and F-16 in its itinerary of consideration. This was the first time in the IAF's history that an American aircraft was being considered. Later the number of manufacturers was widened to include heavy-weight aircraft like the F/A-18 Super Hornet, the Eurofighter Typhoon, and Dassault Rafale. In an interview, the then Air Chief of the IAF M. Shahindra Pal Tyagi admitted to allowing heavy-weight aircraft to compete, "to allow more competition".

The limited series production of the indigenous LCA Tejas aircraft is ongoing at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. The aircraft is supposed to get full operational clearance by 2010-12, as the Tejas' development has been accelerated. It is believed that the MRCA's procurement may take a much longer time than Tejas' induction in the IAF, and its subsequent mass production. The air force has issued an Intent (RoI) for procurement of MRCA (Multi Role Combat Aircraft). The following aircraft are participating: Russian MiG-35, French Rafale, European Eurofighter Typhoon, Swedish Gripen and the US F-16C. Besides the F-16Cs, the US has also offered the sale of F-16 Block 70 and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet combat aircraft. IAF pilots and technicians are familiar with earlier aircraft from MiG and Dassault and would need minimal retraining. Infrastructural and logistical support for maintenance and spares would also be easier for these aircraft compared to the unfamiliar Gripens, F-16s and F/A-18s.

Apart from the 126 multi-role combat aircraft, 110 Su-30MKI air superiority fighters (out of the 230 Su-30MKI fighters ordered, 120 are already in service with the IAF), 220 Light Combat Aircraft, 47 Jaguar combat aircraft, 4 Tu-22M3 bombers, the Indian Air Force has signed contracts for 106 BAE Hawk-132 trainers (deliveries in the pipeline), 80+ combat helicopters, 3 new Long Range UAVs, 8 mid-air refueling planes, 225+ HJT-36 Sitara Intermediate Jet Trainer aircraft and some additional medium-range transport aircraft. The Indian Air Force plans to upgrade its fleet of Mirage 2000 and MiG-29 aircraft.

  • Hawk AJT: Deliveries of the first order of 66 Hawk 132 Advanced Jet Trainers began in November, 2007 with induction in February, 2008. An order for 57 (40 for IAF and 17 for Indian Navy) more was placed in 2008. The Hawk, along with the HJT-36, will serve the IAF's future fighter training needs.
  • C-130J Hercules: Indian Air force signed a deal to acquire 6 C-130J Super Hercules in early 2008 for $ 1.059 Billion. Lockheed Martin would deliver the planes on 2011.
  • Light Helicopters: A tender for supply of 317 light helicopters will be floated by Ministry of Defence combining the requirements of Indian Air force (120) and Indian Army (197). The Navy is too likely to join this tender. The requirements of Indian Navy being 50-60 Helicopters and this is likely to increase the tender to 367. Unnamed Defense Ministry official stated that Letters of interest have been sent to Kamov, Bell, Augusta Westland and Eurocopter. HAL has also recently joined the race with its Light Observation Helicopter (LOH). Although it is still on the drawing board, HAL officials seem to be confident to deliver in time.
  • VIP Helicopters: Indian Air force had floated a tender in 2006 for supply of 8 VIP Helicopters and 4 Medium Lift Helicopters to replace Mi-8 Helicopters of VIP Squadron. IAF concluded the trials of competing helicopters, Augusta Westland EH-101 and Sikorsky S-92 in the period of Jan 14th - Jan 19th 2008.
  • Heavy Lift Helicopters: Indian Air Force has circulated the Request for Information for Heavy Lift Helicopters to the vendors. For this contract, the bidders could include Boeing's CH-47 Chinook, Sikorsky and Russian MI's. Indian Air Force has the requirement of 6 such helicopters. This information was provided by Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal F H Major on February 6, 2008.
  • Attack Helicopters: Indian Air Force has plans to induct two more squadrons of Attack Helicopters, capable of operating in high altitudes. The new purchase would give the force capability to operate helicopter gunships in both day and night as also in high altitude areas like Siachen, Jammu and Kashmir and North-East. It would give an option to armed forces as it can be deployed in fighting militants in insurgency-prone areas. The US aviation giant Boeing's world best seller AH-64A Apache helicopters, Russian Kamov and MI series and European consortium EADS would be bidding for the IAF's order, which could run up to more than a billion US dollars.

Under Development

  • HAL Tejas (Light Combat Aircraft): The IAF will also buy 220 indigenously-built HAL Tejas light combat aircraft. It has already ordered a total of 28 Tejas aircraft. Weaponization is underway as an LCA Tejas successfully test-fired a Russian R-73 close-combat air-to-air missile off the coast of Goa in October, 2007. These aircraft are expected to enter service in 2012.
  • HJT-36 Sitara: The HAL HJT-36 Intermediate Jet Trainer carried out its maiden test flight in 2003 and is all set to enter service within the next 5 years. HAL recently signed a deal with Russian company Saturn DDB for supply of a specially designed engine for the trainer.
  • Apart from combat and training aircraft, India is also developing un-manned surveillance aircraft in collaboration with Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI).
  • Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft: In 2001, the Ministry of Defence signed a deal with Russia to jointly develop and fund the PAK FA , Perspektivnyi Aviatsionnyi Kompleks Frontovoi Aviatsyi (Future Air Complex for Tactical Air Forces) program. The program was initiated to develop a fifth generation fighter aircraft to fill a role similar to that of Lockheed Martin's F-22 Raptor in all aspects. Initially, Mikoyan-Gurevich's Project 1.44 was expected to get the contract. However, Sukhoi Aviation Corporation came up with a more cost-effective aircraft and won. Design work has commenced on Sukhoi's experimental Su-47 Berkut aircraft. PAK FA proves to be a very ambitious program and the estimated costs for developing the aircraft vary between US$15-20 billion. However, it was announced in August, 2007 by Russian Air Force Commander Alexander Zelin that the development stage of the PAK FA project is complete without any Indian involvement and an Indo-Russian pact on building a fifth-generation fighter has only recently been agreed. The new project may effectively result in the development of an export version of the Russian PAK FA or very closely based on the PAK FA's final article. An official project name had not been assigned to this possible Indo-Russian fifth-generation fighter aircraft development programme as of November, 2007. According to the latest reports FGFA will have its first flight by 2015 or before 2015.
  • Medium Combat Aircraft:India is also planning to develop a fifth generation aircraft called Medium Combat Aircraft or MCA. Development work on the MCA is currently awaiting government approval and design phase is in its early stages.
  • Multirole Transport Aircraft: Hindustan Aeronautics has already commenced the development of an Indo-Russian Multirole Transport Aircraft, which will replace the IAF's ageing fleet of Antonov An-32s. On March 15th 2008, it was reported that Irkut Corporation based in Irkutsk in eastern Siberia, has decided to stop financing the Indo-Russian joint production of Multirole Transport Aircraft (MTA). Russian daily newspaper Vedomosti reported that Corporation now would focus on the MS-21 medium-haul passenger airliner together with Sukhoi Civilian Aircraft. Another Russian aviation giant, the Ilyushin Aviation Complex, has replaced the Irkut Corporation, to jointly operate with the Indian HAL.
  • Airawat (AEW&C): India has also revived the Airavat Project, which was India's first attempt in developing an indigenous AEW aircraft. According to various sources, the DRDO has been awarded INR 1,800 crore for the first phase of development, scheduled to be completed by 2012.
  • HAL Light Combat Helicopter: India is also developing an Attack Helicopter based on HAL Dhruv. First flight of HAL LCH (Light Combat Helicopter) is expected by 2008 end.

Weapons

Air to Air Missiles

Air to Surface Missiles

Surface to Air Missiles

  • Akash- Indian Air force has approved the induction of Akash Missile System and had initiated the process of inducting the system. Akash has successfully demonstrated its performance through number of flight tests. DRDO and IAF jointly began a ten day intensive trial of Akash on Dec 13 2007 aimed at making IAF familiar with the system.Defence News reports that IAF has already ordered two units (batteries) of Akash which are likely to be inducted by 2009..
  • Isayev SA-3 Goa: The Indian Air Force is considering upgrading its Pechora SA-3 missiles with Polish help whilst it waits for the Akash. According to Janes Missiles and Rockets (December 2005), the IAF would like to conduct the Newa-SCM upgrade package upgrade to 20 S-125M Pechora-CC systems, using primarily the Tatra 8x8 chassis, which is licence-built in India. Installation on specially adapted heavy equipment trailers or Tatra 8x8 vehicles was studied at the request of the Indian Air Force. It incorporates a new ZNO-X digital transmitter/receiver block developed by the Przemyslowy Instytut Telekomunikacji (PIT) to replace the original magnetron-based hardware. The unit uses digital technology, including digital frequency synthesis, and has automatic built-in test facilities. While the ZNO-X is an expensive upgrade, it significantly improves system performance. Most of the upgrade work would be done in India, although the core elements of the upgrade would be delivered from Poland.Pechora SAM will be phased out by 2012.
  • SA-8 Gecko
  • SA-16 Gimlet - MANPAD
  • Almaz SA-10 Grumble

Future Surface to Air Missile Systems

  • Trishul- Development of Trishul is complete. It has met the IAF requirements during its various developmental flight trials. DRDO is presently in dialogue with IAF for possible induction. Frontier India reports that Indian Air force is considering to induct small quantity to meet partial requirement of LLQRM (Low Level Quick Reaction Missile) System.. However it is not known if IAF has placed a formal order of Trishul SAM System.
  • SPYDER (Surface-to-air PYthon and DERby): Indian Air force plans to acquire 18 Spyder SAM Systems at a cost of Rs. 1800 crore (approx. $395.4 million). A typical squadron consists of 1 Mobile Command and Control Unit and 4 Mobile Firing Units with missiles, each with their own built-in power supplies. SPYDER will reportedly replace India’s Russian-made OSA-AKM (SA-8 Gecko) and ZRK-BD Strela-10M [SA-13 Gopher] SAM systems. If the deal is approved RAFAEL would be the prime contractor, and Israel Aircraft Industries the major subcontractor. But recently Defence Ministry has ordered a probe into the deal following allegations of illegal influencing of the purchase process. Central Vigilance Commission is currently reviewing the deal. It was reported in Feb 2008 that Rafael is to sign Production Transfer Programme (PTP) agreement with Tata Power for maintenance and production of the SAM System. Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) cleared the deal in Jan 2008. It was reported on August 18, 2008 that the Defence Acquisitions Council had approved the deal for 18 SpyDer systems at a cost of Rs. 1800 crore.
  • "Maitri" LLQRM (Low Level Quick Reaction Missile): DRDO is in talks with MBDA to develop Maitri LLQRM for Army, Airforce and Navy. Sources said that DRDL is preparing feasibility report and is awaiting formal clearance from defence ministry.

Surface to Surface Missiles

  • Prithvi-II: 250km Prithvi-II Ballistic Missile is currently under IAF service which could be used to target airfields, command and control centers etc.

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