In the first week of April this year, a RFI for 110 fighter aircraft, single or twin-engine, was issued. Hopefully this will be pursued by the Ministry of Defence with vigour and the numbers will be appropriately enhanced to close the ever increasing deficiency in the combat fleet
With the combat fleet of the Indian Air Force (IAF) badly depleted and the possibility of the Indian armed forces being called upon to militarily confront both China and Pakistan simultaneously, it had become necessary for the IAF to make a realistic evaluation of its operational capability to cope with a two-front war. Thus it was that in the second half of April this year, the IAF carried out a two-week long and the largest ever war gaming air exercise called Gagan Shakti 2018. Quite understandably, there would be a message embedded in the exercise for both Pakistan and China. Two reports on Exercise Gagan Shakti 2018, including exclusive details of types and numbers of aircraft that participated have been included in this issue of SP’s Aviation.
While the IAF may have good reason to be proud and happy about its performance during Exercise Gagan Shakti 2018, it can no longer ignore the need to build up the strength of the combat fleet from the present 31 squadrons to the authorised level of 42. The issue has acquired real urgency and in fact is turning virtually into a crisis as efforts of the IAF over the last 11 years to induct modern fourth-generation combat aircraft in large numbers as also to develop a fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) jointly with Russia have both run aground. A report on the failed FGFA project by Air Marshal B.K. Pandey (Retd) figures in this issue.
In the first week of April this year, a Request for Information for 110 fighter aircraft, single or twin-engine, has been issued. Hopefully this will be pursued by the Ministry of Defence with vigour and the numbers will be appropriately enhanced to close the ever increasing deficiency in the combat fleet. While the leading players in the global aerospace industry such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin who are the major pillars of strength, are all set to jump into the fray, in the final analysis, there is no alternative to self reliance in this field in the long run.
A major development in the regime of military aviation visible on the horizon is the trend to shift to the unmanned regime including in respect of combat platforms. But the proliferation of unmanned platforms, has accentuated the need for safe integration of unmanned platforms with the manned air traffic, civil and military. Consequently, the involved regulatory agencies are in search of affordable solutions especially of integration of mini-UAVs. J. Noronha looks back on this front.
Wish you refreshing reading. Jai Hind!