Indian Air Force Fighter Pilots Vs Chinese Fighter Pilots, Indians have an Edge

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From my analysis, both air force pilots have considerable skills. Each have mastered the jets they have used and have harnessed the jets capabilities and weapons. Both trained heavily in the art of air warfare. China and India do fly similar jets such as the Sukhoi Flanker series fighters and the MIG-21/ F-7 Fishbed models.

MiG-21

In terms of training, both used to have almost similar levels of flight hours per year of around 120 to 150 hours. However, in the last 7 years there has been an increased in the number of training hours accorded to Indian pilots and specifically the fighter pilots cadre!

The Indian Government has taken heed from the Air Force in terms of increasing pilots training hours to improve and sustain the skills they need for air dominance. The Indian Air Force (IAF) has invested billions in introducing the BAE Hawk 100 jets. Over 100 were locally built in India. That is enough to dictate the important of training. They have moved through to an idea of having an in-house delivery plan where the majority of the pilots are trained by some of the best IAF Instructor’s in the world.

Indian Air Force Pilot

In the course program where courses are split in air defence, air combat tactics and simulation events as well as enemy capabilities are all taught in class. It has been simulated in the Hawk 100 too giving pilots a realistic air combat situation.

Once pilots have mastered the areas of multi mission, then realistic mock combats are done in their respective jets. The Sukhoi Su-30MKI is considered one of the best jets in the Indian Air Force. They made them a lot more better when they installed western and Israeli technologies and threw away the Russian equipment which was not up to par. The Mirage 2000 was upgraded in light of the improve qualities of the enemy jet.

IAF training

Several years ago, the Mirage 2000 was pitted against F-15C. At every stage the Mirage 2000 had won in mock air combat against the F-15. In BVR, this was not the case as the F-15 had slight advantage, hence the improvements and upgrades to the French jet!

The PLAAF training program has not improved much in the last 10 years. This is due to the higher repairs and overhauls that the PLAAF has experience and this has affected pilot skills set as most training went back to the jet trainers which was unable to simulate real combat situation. However the PLAAF is playing catch up and have put in considerable effort to introduce new jet trainers. These include the new L-15 that will increase pilot skills at a lower cost.

On the move: Air force pilots pass by a fighter jet at a base in northeastern China. | KYODO

Indian Pilots are flying more hours then before plus they are not being exposed to international military exercise involving the US, UK and France. The IAF pilot exposure in these activities help increase the quality of the skills, the motivation and the confidence to fight in future wars.

The L-15 was introduce to regain the air force initiative to produce high quality pilots and attain the skills at a lower cost instead of using front line jets to train on as these are expensive and require heavy maintenance. The L-15 was introduce as they have seen the Indians moving ahead with their Hawk 100. Its basically PLAAF playing catch up. Furthermore India has been exposed to international military programs such as Red Flag while China focus on in-house training exercise! 

Above: The K-8 was a basic trainer but it didn’t meet the training needs for advance training in PLAAF. As PLAAF inducted more improve combat jets, the requirements has shifted towards introducing advance jet trainers like the L-15 that would help pilots learn skills needed to master the jet they have now such as the J-10, J-11, J-20 etc.

The Indian Air Force posses some of the most unique and formidable jets in the world. They have a large force of Mirage 2000, MIG-29, Su-30MKI, Jaguar and a growing fleet of Rafale and TEJAS. On a daily basis, IAF are briefed about enemy jets, their capabilities and what weaknesses they posses. Debates rage in conference room where ideas about the capabilities of many jets.

On average the finest Indian Air Force pilots would fly over 200 hours per year. That is more than some European pilots achieve and a lot more than many Asian and middle east nations. For the Chinese, we could see the pilots achieving on past knowledge of about 120 hours per year. Some of the elite who fly the J-11 would attain 150 hours. But due to heavy maintenance requirements of Chinese built jets I would seriously say the pilot skills is slightly below those of the IAF pilots.

The following answer was written on Quora by Danial Shazly. You must follow him for more such informational knowledge on fighter planes.