Our sincere gratitude to Air Chief Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria for taking out the time to give some very enlightening and insightful answers, to our inquisitive questions on a diverse range of subjects.
While the world is cancelling a host of leading shows, India has gone ahead with unmatched conviction and is organising Aero India 2021 with not even a fraction of change or an effect out of COVID-19.
This decision of the government to go ahead and host the prestigious biennial Aero India Air Show 2021 at Air Force Station Yelahanka in Bengaluru, is indeed a morale booster particularly for the Indian aerospace industry which is on the cusp of transition as the government in power has launched a major drive to make the nation self reliant through a scheme labelled as “Atmanirbhar Bharat”.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) shoulders a major responsibility to guarantee the security of the nation. This was been clearly emphasised by Air Chief Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria, Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) in an exclusive interview to SP’s. This Aero India 2021 Special Issue of SP’s Aviation carries this interview with the CAS in which he describes in detail the challenges before the nation today as well as in the future as also the responsibilities of the armed forces and the contribution by the Indian aerospace industry to sustain and enhance the operational capability of the IAF.
The government has recently given the go ahead to the Indian aerospace major Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to produce 83 light combat aircraft Tejas Mk 1A to equip five combat squadrons in the IAF. Hopefully, the Indian aerospace industry will be able to deliver against this order in time for the IAF to place orders for additional combat platforms. As for the transport fleet, a project has been initiated for HAL to manufacture the Airbus C295 in large numbers. As the C295 will be produced indigenously, it may be worth considering this platform as a replacement in due course, for the An-32 fleet currently service with the IAF. This will be a major boost for domestic production of the C295. This issue of the magazine carries articles examining these aspects in detail.
While the effort at achieving self reliance in the Indian aerospace industry is laudable, the current deficiency in the combat fleet of the IAF which, after the induction of the 36 Rafale jets that is underway, will reduce to eight squadrons or 144 aircraft. To cater for this deficiency, it is necessary to push for the project to procure 114 multi role fighter aircraft (MRFA) initiated by the IAF a few years ago.
The situation in respect of the combat fleet of the IAF is only going to get worse over the next decade as with the retirement from service of the ageing fleets of Jaguar and MiG-21 Bison aircraft, a total of twelve squadrons or 216 aircraft, the IAF will be in serious difficulty. This calls for a major enhancement of the indigenous capability to produce modern fighter aircraft for the IAF. This is important as going by the experience in the recent past, procurement of combat aircraft from abroad is not going to be easy.
All this and more in this Aero India 2021 Special Issue of SP’s Aviation. Welcome aboard and wish you happy landings! Do visit us at Hall E, Stall No E4.6 at the Aero India Air Show!