Indian Air Chief Marshal warns of impending Pakistani air superiority

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Friday, September 29, 2006

The top-brass of the Indian Air Force (IAF) has sent a three-page letter to Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, warning him that the IAF is in danger of losing its long-standing air-superiority over Pakistan. In the letter the following statement is given,

Pakistan Air Force (PAF) is being beefed up with 44 F16s from America. They have a clearly defined goal of attaining parity with the IAF. With China supplying J 10 and JF 17 aircraft (fitted with Russian engines), PAF force levels of combat squadron will increase.

Unless steps are taken to move ahead with procurement, the IAF's combat strength will deplete to a level, which would entirely neutralise the conventional superiority held by IAF since our Independence. PAF will have 19 to 26 squadrons by 2011-12, while the IAF could reduce to 26.5 by 2015.

– Air Chief Marshal Tyagi

Additional Director of Air Power Studies, Kapil Kak said, "This aircraft induction will take at least 10 years from today and in those 10 years, the MiG 21's will progress if they get wound down. Their total technical life and design life will end and we will have the Air Force combat force strength winding down, worryingly fast."

Several inductions planned by the IAF, such as the HAL Tejas and the proposed Multirole Medium Range Combat Aircraft, have been delayed. In his letter, the Air Chief Marshal has asked the Government to acquire 40 Su-30 MKIs from Russia as soon as possible, induct the 126 Multirole Medium Range Combat Aircraft at the earliest and also urge Russia to honour their commitment of not allowing China to sell planes with Russian engines to Pakistan.