“The procurement and acquisitions span the entire spectrum of the capabilities of [the] Indian air force, including fighter aircraft, transport aircraft, helicopters and modernization of air defense network. Net-centricity, cybersecurity and ensuring the requisite communication bandwidth for seamless operations are also a part of capacity building to ensure that [the] Indian air force remains at the forefront of technology,” he says.
The long gestation periods for acquiring new systems requires the Indian air force to upgrade its legacy systems to retain and further strengthen its capabilities.
India has announced several large IAF acquisition projects, including the more than $20 billion effort to buy 126 Dassault Rafales under the widely watched Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft project, and a program to buy Apache and Chinook helicopters from Boeing.
The minister also expressed concern over the shortage of trainer aircraft, which he says has been a training impediment. “The induction of Basic Trainer Aircraft [BTA], the Intermediate Jet Trainer [IJT] and the Hawk Mk-132 Advance Jet Trainer [AJT] will enable more meaningful training to the air crew and also prepare the crew to handle complex avionics in modern aircraft,” Antony says. “The skill levels of other air warriors too must be similarly developed to enable them to retain and sharpen the cutting edge of the operational capability, as well as adeptly handle other systems and structures in a net-centric environment.”
The IAF has projected a requirement of 181 BTAs, 85 IJTs and 106 AJTs for Stage-I, II and III training.
India also plans to order 30 more Swiss Pilatus PC-7s, along with the 75 trainers already ordered last year.
Rafale photo: Dassault