IAF Dream of 42 Squadron of Fighter Jets
The Cabinet committee approved IAF to operate 42 squadron of fighter jets, to confront against both Chinese and Pakistani Air force same time. not only the combat jets, the need of support planes like cargo planes, airborne Radar systems, ELINT planes, and rotary wing systems like Helicopters, unmanned platforms and anti air missiles. as Air force almost lost good years by focusing only the MMRCA acquisition and LCA, now only the government providing full support to speed up the pending deals.
The air force now running with very low number of combat air crafts, less than twenty five squadron fighters jets only combat capable. which can fight against either China or Pakistan, however not withstand against coordinated attack by both Chinese and Pakistani fighter jets. currently Indian Air force have some ten plus Su 30 MKI squads, six Jaguar squad, three MiG 29 and another three Mirage 2000 squads, which are capable to fight or out perform both Chinese and Pakistani air crafts.
IAF's Flanker and Fulcrum variants are highly customized fighters, which can out perform Pakistani F 16 Blk 52 fighters and Chinese Su 27 Flankers, the Mirage is a good multi role fighter can perform multiple missions in single sortie, China and Pakistan don't have such kind of fighters. Jaguar is the best ground attacker jets, can fly very low and used for suppressing enemy air defense systems,which is called as Bomb truck.
In future IAF plan is to induct two squad of Indian made Tejas MK 1 and another eight squadron of improved Tejas MK 1 A. this ten squads eventually replaces the older MiG 21 and MiG 27 fighters. as per plan all MiG 21 and MiG 27 fighters will be withdrawn from service before 2022. with or without adding an replacement. IAF currently operating nearly 15 squadron of MiG 21 and MiG 27 fighters. each year two MiG 21 and one MiG 27 squadrons replaced without adding new fighters, despite delay of LCA and Rafale.
IAF plans to replace those MiG 21 with the addition of desi made Tejas MK 1 fighters. The Tejas is yet to test fire a Radar guided missile and yet to perform air refueling which is a milestone to achieve final operational clearance to be certified to fly combat missions under IAF tag. The MMRCA meant to replace those MiG 27 ground attack jets with more powerful multi role Rafale jets. the government scrapped the MMRCA and went to direct purchase of less than two squad of Rafale's. it's believed that IAF may license manufacture more than ten squadron of Rafales in India, however it's still on speculations.
In the next decade IAF comes with variety of new fighter jets, which include fifth generation fighter jets like PAK FA and FGFA, which brings the IAF squadron count close to 42,
15 Squad of Su 30 MKI
10 Squad of Tejas MK 1 and MK 1 A
6 Squad of Jaguar M/S
3 Squad of PAK FA
3 Squad of MiG 29 UPG
2 Squad of Mirage 2000 TI
2 Squad of Rafale F3R
Thus brings the Fighter Aircraft numbers close to 41 squadrons, before 2025. that is ten years from Now, as before IAF may face least number of Squad in coming days. that's counted less than 25 squadrons.
IAF's another major program is to modernize the strategic and tactical air lifters. IAF currently operates some nine C 17 globe master III and fifteen Il 76 MD planes. IAF lost to capture the Boeing's last ten C 17 from it's final assembly line, which makes the IAF to sufficient in strategic air lifters for next forty years. because of the lose IAF needs to look up some other platforms or modernize the Il 76 MD planes. Ai rforce also acquires 12 C 130 J tactical transporters for special operations, and IAF plans to buy more numbers of C 130 J in coming years.
Another program is to replace the HS 748 Tactical transporters with much powerful modern C 295 transporters. TATA won the deal to supply some 50+ Planes to the IAF. however the contract yet to be signed. due to the delay in MTA project, IAF upgraded almost all An 32 Cline Transporters into An 32 RE with the support from Ukraine, which will be remain in service till 2030.
The Fighter Jets must need tactical supports like Aerial Refueling and Airborne radar support, IAF currently operates seven IL 78 MKI refeulers, and IAF shortlisted french airbus A 330 MRTT to supply six more aerial refulers to IAF. the contract yet to be signed, anyhow this numbers are not enough for large IAF fleet. IAF must need atleast 20 such bigger aerial refuelers.
Airborne Radar support is another major aspect in air combat, who assist the friendly aircraft. also perform as a flying air traffic controller who assign and coordinate friendly fighter jets to carry out strike missions. IAF currently operates three Phalcon AEWCS and another two under construction in Israel. two EMB 145 AEWCS under testing. IAF also shortlisted Airbus A 330 to supply six air frames to DRDO, to modify the air crafts who can carry DRDO developed LRSTR Radar on it's top. which is similar to American E 3 sentry aewcs, all these support planes may enter the IAF before 2020, and within next ten years IAF dominate the Asian skies as proving one of the best Air force in Asian continent.