And Chaanakyaji responded ...
<Completely OT for the larger topic in hand>
Ummm Chaanakyaji, I wouldn't agree with that.
End of the day, however reprehensible IAF's attitude and actions towards indigenous products has been, it's still our force - so these institutional attitude issues needs to be solved, if required, by force-feeding etc. - but I'd prefer (and I'm sure most of us would agree as well), the clean-up initiative will need to come up from it's officer cadre (like Navy) itself - aka from within, and not from outside, and we need to be patient till that happens.
But solutions like cutting-off the head because of a headache, is not desirable.
End of the day IAF is a professional fighting force, barring none - albeit extreme tactical in it's outlook, but that's where the scope-of-improvement is. That competency needs to be retained (so Wing Co and below ranks) while enabling them to develop the strategic outlook (Air Cmdr and above ranks) of self-sufficiency towards product development requiring developing and nurturing the MIC ecosystem etc etc.
For e.g. you go to a good/large BRD - you will see Cpl/Sgt ranks far outweigh the officer cadre wrt professional (mostly technical) qual etc. And it's far more evident on a day-to-day work-profile.
Almost ~2+ decades back, one witnessed the M53-P2 engine test being conducted, completely end-to-end, by a group of NCOs and other airmen (max rank seen was a MWO, but mostly were WO, JWOs and Sgts) - not a single tech aphsaar were on sight (guess they were too busy, signing-off various PL/SL/ELs, in triplicate and other std baboon-giri, that is normally witnessed in Dilli corridors). When enquired, the smiles were quite instructive of what those men felt about usability of these aphsaars.
Betw, When TSarkarji quotes about a shipyard and various labor-attitudes being displayed there and it's adverse impact on shaping IAF personnel's attitudes towards civilians. In the same vein, how about the above example (and there are many such examples) and it's impact on civilians attitudes being shaped. Though I have to admit, such interface is much less possible for a civilian population given the closed nature of the armed forces activities (by design).
Anyway I think I'm digressing!!
Coming back to the topic ... good/bad/ugly IAF is OUR force and under no circumstances their primary job and thus propriety wrt offensive/defensive Fixed-Wing A/C usage-ownership for sovereign air-space defense should be diluted.
So stuff like some sqns of LCA being handed over to AAC (and stunts like a few IL-76/C-17 platforms to AAC etc) should be avoided.
Having said the I'm not so sure the same logic should/would apply to offensive and defensive rotary wing asset ownership ... not an expert here (rohitvatsji, vaibhavji, deejayji et all are), but my personal view is upto battalion-level ground-offensive-support assets (and “tactical” CAS roles) should have under one command structure. Aka the battalion commander should have the comfort feeling one of his infantry/artillery officer, one who completely knows and feels and have the first-hand experience of infantry/artillery fighting on the ground, is the one operating an offensive/defensive platform in support of his ground offensive.
So yes IMVHO, “tactical” platforms like Apache/LCH/Rudra (for offensive) and ALH/Chetak/Cheetah (for defensive) etc etc needs to be under AAC, maybe under a divisional commander level (who then can flexibly assign it at battalion level - I doubt setting up support infra at a battalion level would be tenable) – but the “strategic” CAS/Ground Attack/Air Dominance/Air Superiority etc should always firmly be with IAF and IAF alone.
Maybe the concept of flying artillery etc are not too ingrained yet in IA thinking yet ... but I think that time is fast approaching, and IA and IAF needs to introspect and start thinking about it.
Wrt what Shivji is suggesting like fixed-wing FAO/FAC, ultra-light CAS roles via HTT-40, well, that’s an interesting thought (as always when it comes from shivji), and need to think it thru. It was actually proposed by the HAL Program Manager, when IAF completely decided not to support it at any cost. Come to think of it FAC roles is completely at a divisional level, so if we are saying offensive/defensive “tactical” CAS roles should be with IA at a battalion level, why not the FAO/FAC roles as well.
</Completely OT for the larger topic in hand>
Ok that's a beginning of thought process.
No I am not suggesting to cut off the head.
It needs some changes in the way we approach airforce support for Army operations and pure Airforce operations.
I was just reading Siachen by Nitin Gokhale and the role played by 114 HU which was hived off from Airforce as Army needed Heli support on daily basis to support logistics in HA Posts.
Army has many operations which require close air support and ground support. You also mentioned FAO/FAC. Airforce may not be always in a position to spare its asset of willing to undertake operations for the fear of escalation.
Induction of Airforce in to an area of army operation is thought of a offensive deployment, escalation of hostalities which could soon spiral out of control.
Airwing as part of Army might just prevent that escalation ladder. not that that would always be so.
You have classified CAS role as strategic along with air dominance, air superiority and ground attack.
I would think of it a supportive role. May be I am wrong in thinking that.
The problem with Airwing of IA as I would see is
1. having separate airfield
2. duplicating maintenance infrastructure
3.maintaining separate set up parallel to what IAF already has.
4.Making changes to warfare doctrine.
5.Training requirement and infrastructure
6.Defining mission profiles without requiring IAF support
7.common Air traffic control
8.Communication and network inter-operability
9.Use of platforms like AWACS/AEW&C
10.protocol for separation and role definition
( not in any specific order)
What I had in mind the events like 1962 war where IAF , reportedly, refused to move in or like Longewala where it had to provide CAS/ground attack. Second on Siachen. Third one specific army requirements which resulted in AAC.
There are many advanced Military that operate its Ground forces with integrated Airwings. They do have a variant of F-16s AFAIK.Its not a new concept . For India it would be new given the compartmentalised services with each having their own turf to protect.
I don't know if LCA could fulfil CAS/GS roles like the way Helis could do. May be many changes would be required. may be other A/cs would be more suitable like what shiv suggested Combat Hawk or HTT-40. If that is could we MoDiFy LCA in CAS roles easily. So instead of BVR missiles we can have more ground oriented weapons and not AAM. We may need LCA to be able to fly and land from unpaved runways and short runways as well. May be fly at low speed and low altitude. Have more body armour to withstand ground fire from HMGs.But lot of requirements which Airforce needs in LCA may not be needed for Army. so like LCA MK1 could also go to IA with some MoDification.
May be IA can develop mission specific profiles for LCAs which would cater to IA and not much worry about STR/ITR. which would be needed in air combat and air dominance or CAP roles or dog fights. LCA while in IA could shoot and scoot, strafe, bomb the area before Helis move in to in-filtrate or ex-filtrate.
Once enemy knows that Air support is not from Airforce but from Army the ladder of escalation would become that much difficult for them to justify by inducting their airforce. Of course they can always use their air elements with their Army. that will keep conflicts from getting out of hand as mission profiles would be limited.
More customers for LCAs , more desi development and more production.
if OT pardon me for thinking aloud.