Indian Air Force is currently under the ongoing training exercise ‘Gagan Shakti’ and IAF has faith that the exercise can put out double the number of fighter aircraft in combat compared to the Air Force of Pakistan if any situation arises in the future.
The IAF Chief, Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa said that the IAF has achieved unprecedented serviceability levels of 80% for its fighter aircraft during the exercise Gagan Shakti. In his interview to Indian Express, he stated, “full credit goes to our engineers that we have built up the serviceability of fighter aircraft to 80%, compared to a target of 75%, and a dispatch reliability of more than 95% during Gagan Shakti exercise.”
Indian Air Force with its old aircraft and unavailability of spares has wrestled to maintain high serviceability levels. It has struggled to maintain a greater number of its fighter aircraft available for operations. IAF has the ability to make the number of useful planes through its dispatch reliability, a figure that has diminished in times of peace.
As per the sources of IAf, “They demonstrated IAF’s capability to overwhelm the Pakistan Air Force by bringing double their number of fighter aircraft in combat, and that too with significantly higher throw weight”.
It is estimated that Pakistan has the ability to put out 260 aircraft into combat as it has 70% serviceability for its 371 fighter jets, also Pakistan has lesser stamina and capability than Indian Air Force, their counterparts.
On the other hand, for PLAAF (China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force), the sources revealed that the IAF had demonstrated its ability to inspect PLAAF from the spreading areas that reduce the probability of it being hit by Chinese missile attack. However, PLAAF has a great supremacy in the number of fighter planes but their ability to work them is limited by the geography of Tibet.
When we look at the strength of IAF, it has 31 fighter squadrons against an authorization of 42 squadrons. The sources acknowledged that this reduction plays a decisive role because after eight months of continuous effort this high serviceability and dispatching reliability levels have been achieved.
It may be difficult for the IAF to repeat these numbers if they have been asked to go into combat with very little information. Most analysts believe that there can be a future military conflict involving India at very short notice. To kick off the IAF from peace places and to give great superiority in this scenario, a lot of fighter squadrons will be required.
With exercise Gagan Shakti, it has been cleared that the IAF can do long-range sorties where fighter aircraft taking off from bases in western and southern India and it can hit targets 3,000 km away. The exercise was not about to learn tactical lessons but is to focus on checking logistics stamina to build up and keep the high serviceability levels. This confirms the operating time and effort taken to rotate the fighter aircraft.
According to Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa, “This has happened due to support of the defense ministry and because of close cooperation with public sector units such as HAL and BEL. I have said it at the recent Defence Expo in Chennai and personally thanked HAL Chairperson Dr. T Suvarna Raju for the tremendous support HAL has given for the buildup of this serviceability.”