A Word from Ed­i­tor-in-Chief

SP's Aviation - - TABLE OF CONTENTS -

cel­e­brates its 86th An­niver­sary, an oc­ca­sion of im­mense sig­nif­i­cance for both serv­ing and re­tired per­son­nel of this or­gan­i­sa­tion of high re­pute. Es­tab­lished on this day in the year 1932 with just a hand­ful of West­land Wapiti pis­ton en­gine bi­planes, the jour­ney of the IAF of a lit­tle over eight and half decades since its birth, has been long and ar­du­ous, but none the less, the ex­pe­ri­ence has been re­ward­ing. To­day, while the IAF with its au­tho­rised com­bat fleet strength at 42 squadrons can boast of be­ing the fourth largest in the world, it also faces some mon­u­men­tal chal­lenges.

With ef­forts by the IAF since the be­gin­ning of the last decade to in­duct fourth-gen­er­a­tion com­bat air­craft fail­ing to fruc­tify so far, the strength of the fighter fleet has dwin­dled to just 31 squadrons as against the au­tho­rised level of 42. Hope­fully, the In­dian aero­space in­dus­try will gear up to pro­vide the IAF with ca­pa­ble indige­nous fighter air­craft such as the Light Com­bat Air­craft (LCA) Te­jas Mk IA and Mk II in the num­bers re­quired and in a re­spectable time­frame. This will help the IAF tide over the es­ca­lat­ing cri­sis, at least to some ex­tent. The IAF is also look­ing for­ward to the suc­cess of the indige­nous fifth gen­er­a­tion Ad­vanced Medium Com­bat Air­craft (AMCA) project to en­able it to foray into the next gen­er­a­tion with rel­a­tive ease. This is par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant in view of the fact that In­dia has with­drawn from the joint Indo-Rus­sian project to de­velop a fifth gen­er­a­tion fighter air­craft. Hope­fully, the AMCA project will not be plagued with un­cer­tainty as has been the case of the LCA Te­jas. There is talk of a serv­ing Air Mar­shal of the IAF be­ing en­trusted with the re­spon­si­bil­ity of man­age­ment of the LCA project. This is­sue of SP’s Avi­a­tion car­ries a num­ber of an­a­lyt­i­cal ar­ti­cles on the IAF, the for­mi­da­ble chal­lenges that lie ahead, press­ing re­quire­ments and the var­i­ous op­tions be­fore the ser­vice for in­duc­tion of com­bat air­craft to re­store the fighter fleet to the level au­tho­rised.

Dur­ing an in­ter­ac­tion with the me­dia pre­ced­ing the 86th An­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions by the IAF, Air Chief Mar­shal B.S. Dha- noa, Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), a highly ex­pe­ri­enced and an out­stand­ing pro­fes­sional, stated that the Rafale com­bat air­craft be­ing pro­cured from Das­sault Avi­a­tion of France, is a very ca­pa­ble plat­form and would be a “game changer” in the re­gion as nei­ther of the two ad­ver­saries cur­rently posses com­bat air­craft to match this plat­form from the French aero­space in­dus­try. A spe­cial mes­sage from the CAS on the oc­ca­sion of the 86th An­niver­sary of the IAF as also a per­sonal in­ter­view with him, are a part of this is­sue of the mag­a­zine.

Writ­ing about the In­dian aero­space in­dus­try, in his ar­ti­cle on ‘De­fence Off­sets’, Pratyush Ku­mar, Pres­i­dent of Boe­ing In­dia sug­gests that the coun­try has tremen­dous po­ten­tial for growth in the aero­space and de­fence in­dus­try and de­fence off­sets should be used as an ‘en­abler’. He says that the pro­vi­sion for off­sets as an in­te­gral part of a de­fence con­tract, can be an ef­fec­tive medium to har­ness this po­ten­tial and not be a se­ri­ous ‘lim­it­ing fac­tor’ for for­eign OEMs while bur­den­ing the end user. He be­lieves that there is a need to “Re­form, Re­think and Re­set” the reg­u­la­tory frame­work.

All this and more in this spe­cial is­sue of SP’s Avi­a­tion ded­i­cated to the IAF. Warm­est Con­grat­u­la­tions to IAF on the oc­ca­sion!

Jai Hind!

Dur­ing the press con­fer­ence, ahead of IAF’s 86th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions, CAS re­peat­edly, re­it­er­ated that In­dian Air Force is much more than just Rafale. It is a po­tent force with a fo­cus on the mis­sion and the bril­liant men be­hind the ma­chines.

JAYANT BARAN­WAL PUB­LISHER & ED­I­TOR- IN- CHIEF

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