Indian Air Force

IAF ready for ‘Two Front’ war; Shortage of squadrons until the next decade: Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari

By Financial Express

Ahead of the Air Force Day on October 8, the new Indian Air Force (IAF) chief had said that India is ready to deal with a `two front war’ which will involve China and Pakistan.

And “for this, the focus of the IAF has been to enhance its overall combat capabilities,” Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari said on Tuesday. However, a decade from now, with new inductions of fighter jets, the Indian Air Force (IAF) will not be able to have 42 squadrons.

Responding to media queries related to the dwindling fleet numbers, ahead of the Air Force Day on Oct 8, Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari said, “Though there are plans to induct new fighters to replace the fighters which are being phased over the next 3-4 years. However, over the next 10-15 years, IAF will not be able to have the mandated 42 squadrons.” Until the next decade the IAF will be left with just 35 squadrons.

To a question on the status of the Request for Information (RFI) for 114 fighter aircraft, the new chief in his first interaction with the media persons said that the responses have been received from the OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) and efforts are on to move the case faster.

Besides the Dassault Aviation pitching their ‘Rafale’, Sweden has offered Gripen E/F from SAAB; F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet by the US based Boeing Company and Lockheed Martin’ F-16V which has been recast as the F-21 and the Russians have offered the MiG-35.

Will the new fighters be under the Strategic Partnership model?

“The decision for the manufacturing process will be taken by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC)”, he said. According to him the 114 aircraft will be under the Make in India Initiative and the IAF is looking at new technologies which will help in integrating the future 5th and 6th generation technologies.

To a question related to the MiG-21 Bison, according to the chief there are four squadrons which will be phased out over the next 3-4 years. “Before taking off, each aircraft undergoes thorough checks and is fully serviced.”

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