The Indian Air Force (IAF) today, having completed the Platinum Jubilee of dedicated service to the nation, is a modern, technology-intensive force distinguished by its commitment to excellence and professionalism. Keeping pace with the demands of contemporary advancements, the IAF continues to modernise in a phased manner and today it stands as a credible air power counted amongst the fore-most professional services in the world.
The primacy of Air Power will be a decisive factor in shaping the outcome of future conflicts. In line with this dictum, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has developed into a major ‘Component of National Power’, which can be applied quickly and decisively. The IAF has reoriented itself to a multi-role capability of platforms and equipment, along with multi-skill capability of personnel. The rapid economic growth of the country dictates the need to protect our security interests extending from the Persian Gulf to the Straits of Malacca.
Over the years the IAF has grown from a tactical force to one with transoceanic reach. The strategic reach emerges from induction of Force Multipliers like Flight Refuelling Aircraft (FRA), Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) and credible strategic lift capabilities. There is emphasis on acquiring best of technology through acquisitions or upgradation, be it aircraft, systems, precision missiles or net centricity. The main inductions and acquisitions by Indian Air Force are given in the following paras.
IAF has started upgrading its combat aircraft fleet since the last few years in order to enhance its operational capability and maintain its aircraft as modern weapon platforms, capable of meeting the present challenges posed by the security scenario in our region. Of the available fleet, MiG-21, MiG-27 and Jaguar aircraft have already been upgraded and Mirage-2000 and MiG-29 aircraft are planned for upgradation. The Indian Air Force is considering upgrade of its medium lift helicopters comprising Mi-8, Mi-17 and Mi-17-IVs, as also the AN – 32 transport aircraft, with the aim of improving their overall capability.
The IAF today is in the process of a most comprehensive modernisation plan. Over the next few years, the force would induct more Su-30 MKI aircraft, the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) and the Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA). There are plans to augment the helicopter and transport fleets too. The IAF is also in the process of acquiring radars in various categories to meet the Air Defence requirements, accurate and advanced weapons, Network Centric Warfare systems, etc, to meet its assigned tasks.
The Indian Air Force has seven commands, of which five are operational and two functional, namely :
• HQ Central Air Command, Allahabad
• HQ Eastern Air Command, Shillong
• HQ Western Air Command, New Delhi
• HQ Southern Air Command, Thiruvananthapuram
• HQ South-Western Air Command, Gandhi Nagar
• HQ Maintenance Command, Nagpur and
• HQ Training Command, Bangalore
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