A Word from Editor-in-Chief

Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa, Chief of the Air Staff, has assured the nation that the IAF is always ready to provide swift response in any contingency

Issue: 9 / 2017By Jayant Baranwal, Publisher & Editor-in-Chief

Established on October 8, 1932, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is celebrating its 85th anniversary this month. Equipped initially with just four Westland Wapiti piston engine bi-planes, in its glorious journey of the last eight and a half decades, the organisation has grown to be the fourth largest among the Air Forces in the world. Since the nation achieved independence in 1947, the IAF has been involved in three major military conflicts with the hostile neighbour Pakistan and has emerged with flying colours each time. In peacetime, it has always been in the forefront in disaster management. The IAF has truly lived up to its motto of ‘Nabha Sparsham Deeptam’ or ‘Touch the Sky with Glory’, a philosophy derived from a dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjun during Mahabharat, as recorded in Chapter XI of the Bhagavad Gita. On this glorious occasion, we at SP Guide Publications offer felicitations to all personnel of the IAF.

Tragically, the IAF lost an iconic figure three weeks before the anniversary on September 16 with the sad demise at the age of 98, of Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh. He will always be remembered for his outstanding professionalism, exceptional leadership and the yeomen service he rendered in the critical years towards growth of the IAF as a combat force. We at SP’s offer our heartfelt Salutations to the Marshal for his incredible contributions to nation.

In his infinitely inspiring message on the occasion of the 85th anniversary of the IAF that leads this issue of SP’s Aviation, Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa, Chief of the Air Staff, while acknowledging the contribution by Air Warriors, past and present, to national security both in peace and war, has also highlighted the formidable challenges that lie ahead for the nation and the IAF. In his interview on the occasion of the 85th anniversary, the CAS has unequivocally assured the nation that the IAF is always ready to provide swift response in any contingency whether in war or peace.

In this issue of SP’s Aviation, Air Marshal Raghu Rajan (Retd) catalogues the challenges that the IAF faces today and highlights the areas that need urgent attention of the government. The most pressing requirements of today are the induction of modern fourth and fifth generation combat aircraft to make up for grevious shortages as also force multipliers and other support systems to enhance operational capability. This issue of SP’s Aviation carries a number of articles delving into what needs to be done to equip the IAF to be capable to confront challenges it may be called upon to face in the future. In this issue, Pratyush Kumar of Boeing India elaborates on two platforms aiming to meet the critical needs of India – F/A-18 Super Hornet and KC-46A Pegasus FRA.

A major event in September this year that has been described as a “Master Stroke” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been the appointment of Nirmala Sitharaman as full time Minister of Defence. While this appointment is seen to be reflecting Prime Minister Modi’s perspective of preferring “Performance” over Politics”, it has been described as “A breath of fresh air” by Air Chief Marshal Fali Major, former CAS. While there are a number of formidable challenges before the new incumbent, for the IAF, there is now renewed hope of its modernisation programme moving forward at the required pace.

All this and more in this issue of SP’s Aviation dedicated to the IAF on the occasion of its 85th anniversary. The issue does cater to our civil aviation fraternity with some of the key issues and a case study with reference to a subsidiary of KLM airlines.

Welcome aboard and wish our readers happy landings!