Indian Air Force Must be Ready to Fight Two-front War vs China and Pakistan

Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa, Chief of the Air Staff of the Indian Air Force, has warned his officers to be prepared for a war against either China or Pakistan “at a very short notice,” in what some observers see as an affirmation war isn’t a distant danger.

In a personal letter to the 12,000 officers of the IAF, the Air Marshal tacitly admits to the possibility of the IAF having to fight a two-front war simultaneously. He asks his officers to be ready.

This looming danger shines the spotlight on the need to accelerate the IAF’s ongoing modernization program. The aim of this program is to replace most of the IAF’s obsolete fighters bought from the Soviet Union with more sophisticated fourth generation combatants such as the Dassault Rafale, twin-engine, multirole fighter jet.

The IAF plans to deploy the first two Rafale squadrons at air force stations in the west and east after the first of these advanced fourth generation fighters arrive in 2019.

In September 2016, India signed a deal with France to buy 36 Rafale fighters. The first aircraft is to be delivered by September 2019 and all the aircraft should be delivered by 2022.

The acquisition of the Rafales will have an immediate and dramatic effect on the balance of power on the Indian subcontinent. The Rafales give India a weapon potent enough to challenge Pakistan’s U.S.-made General Dynamics F-16 air superiority fighters and the PAC JF-17 Thunder multi-role fighters produced jointly by Pakistan and China.

India hopes the Rafales, which can carry nuclear weapons, can help address the military imbalance in its favor.

IAF has decided to deploy one Rafale squadron (16 aircraft) to the Hasimara Air Force Station located in Alipurduar district, West Bengal. Hasimara is strategically located near the Indo-Bhutan border facing China.

The second Rafale squadron will be assigned to the Ambala Air Force Station in the state of Haryana, and located on the border with the Indian state of Punjab bordering Pakistan.

Despite the acquisition of the French fighters, the IAF still needs more modern combat aircraft.

Almost half of the IAF’s operational fighters are set to be decommissioned over the next nine years. IAF has 35 active fighter squadrons against a government -authorized strength of 42 squadrons.

Of the active fighter squadrons, 14 are equipped with Mikoyan MiG-21s (dating back to the 1970s) and Mikoyan MiG-27s, which will retire between 2015 and 2024.







The post Indian Air Force Must be Ready to Fight Two-front War vs China and Pakistan appeared first on Indian Defence Update.

from Indian Defence Update
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