A gust of wind!
The gust of wind (Rafale) is going to kick-start the exercise to augment the depleting squadron strength of the Indian Air Force soon
“It would make immense sense if the Rafale numbers are incrementally increased to form at least five squadrons (80 aircraft) for the ease of maintenance, training and logistics.” — Air Chief Marshal F.H. Major (Retd)
It would make immense sense if the Rafale numbers are incrementally increased to form at least five squadrons (80 aircraft) for the ease of maintenance, training and logistics
The literal translation of Rafale in French is ‘a gust of wind’ – and it seems that this gust of wind is going to kick-start the exercise to augment the depleting squadron strength of the Indian Air Force (IAF) soon, albeit in a small way and in lesser numbers and not as the ‘Mother of all Deals’ — as it was purported to be! But the induction of even 36 Rafale is welcome – the much needed ‘wind’ beneath the IAF’s ‘wings’!
While it is a fact that no air force in the world can have a combat fleet consisting of only the most modern and cutting-edge combat platforms, a healthy technology mix of low technology/medium technology/fourth and fifth-generation technology platforms (20%:40%:40%) is an accepted ratio to project airpower credibly and potently against your likely adversaries. Every single air force in the world is always in some form of modernisation or the other given the obsolescence/ageing of equipment, changing threat/conflict scenarios and rapid advancement of technology – it is only the costs, scope and time frames that vary. IAF is no different from any other, and is going through the many nuances and complexities that accompany such transformations!
The only peculiar difference the IAF faces is that besides the ongoing modernisation, it’s combat fleet is depleting at an alarming rate. A lot has been written and debated as to why this is happening and I will not get into it, but the key issue now is to aug- ment our squadron strength in the quickest time frame with a healthy mix of combat platforms in the ratio suggested above, or close to it. The crucial issue that needs to be kept in mind is that this mix must be of only four or five aircraft types – but in sufficient numbers to meet the requirements of a 42 squadron Air Force. Another great advantage of a four or five aircraft types Air Force is the ease of maintenance, training and logistics. In the present context and given costs to the nation, an ideal and healthy mix of aircraft types in the IAF could be – MiG variants (15 per cent), Mirage 2000s/Jaguars/LCA (45 per cent) and Su-30/Rafale (40 per cent). What is crucial however, is the phase-out/induction time frame of the old and new platforms – this will determine the operational preparedness and combat edge of the IAF at any given time.
It would make immense sense if the Rafale numbers are incrementally increased to form at least five squadrons (80 aircraft) for the ease of maintenance, training and logistics that is required to maintain a front line state-of-the-art aircraft such as Rafale. Also, given the size and expanse of our country and the airspace that needs to be controlled, defended even during peacetime and ‘dominated’ in times of war/conflict, the number of aircraft do matter!