The Indian Air Force which is currently operating with half of its current strength of only 33 fighter squadrons over a decade has alarmed the security establishment. The number of Indian Air Force’s fighter fleet is not enough as it is required.
The sanctioned strength of fighter fleet is 42 while the IAF is operating only with 33. And the most alarming situation will come when the number will be reduced to 16 by 2032 and 19 by 2027.
As per the current scenario, the Indian Air Force requires 45 squadrons and clearly, it is not fulfilled. Thought, each squadron contains 18-20 jets but with less strength which indicates the total number of fighter fleet could be 300 by 2032. Behind the critical fall in the number of fighter jets, there is a reason of de-induction of MiGs 21, 27, and 29. Air Force presented the numbers in parliament panel in the presentation made on defence.
Instead of increasing, the numbers of jets are decreasing and it will be a cause of concern by keeping in mind the two-front collusive threats from China and Pakistan. For filling this critical gap, IAF is taking into account Rafale, Sukhoi 30s and indigenous Tejas.
To buy 126 Rafale fighter jets, India is stepped into a deal with French company Dassault Aviationto. The company will supply 36 jets while remaining will be manufactured in India with the collaboration of Russia company. In the fleet 2019, 36 Rafale and Sukhoi jets will have emerged as a part. Also, 83 Light Combat Aircraft is expected to be inducted by 2020.
However, it is expected that by 2019 five more squadrons will join the fleet but with some withdraws, the number will remain near 30-33. As per the Ministry of Defence, “The capital funding provided to IAF is not at all commensurate with the large envisaged requirements. This could lead to erosion of existing capabilities to a large extent”.
But the standing committee on Defence said, “The issue of depletion in squadron strength has been taken up repeatedly, but no concrete measures seem to have been taken.”
The Indian Air Force has started hunting for increasing its operational capabilities of 114 fighter planes and has added firepower to its dwindling fleet. As per the sources, this will be done under the strategic partnership model of the Narendra Modi government, which aims to harmonize foreign and Indian manufacturers to promote indigenization in defense production. Out of 114 fighters, 16 will be sent from the original country and the rest will be produced in the Indian production lines established here.