Bharat Rakshak Forum Announcement

Hello Everyone,

A warm welcome back to the Bharat Rakshak Forum.

Important Notice: Due to a corruption in the BR forum database we regret to announce that data records relating to some of our registered users have been lost. We estimate approx. 500 user details are deleted.

To ease the process of recreating the user IDs we request members that have previously posted on the BR forums to recognise and identify their posts, once the posts are identified please contact the BRF moderator team by emailing BRF Mod Team with your post details.

The mod team will be able to update your username, email etc. so that the user history can be maintained.

Unfortunately for members that have never posted or have had all their posts deleted i.e. users that have 0 posts, we will be unable to recreate your account hence we request that you re-register again.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused and thank you for your understanding.

Regards,
Seetal

Books that cover IAF and its History

Jagan
Webmaster BR
Posts: 3035
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30
Location: Earth @ Google.com
Contact:

Re: Books that cover IAF and its History

Postby Jagan » 08 Aug 2002 20:37

Other books that are distantly related to the IAF include books by all the three British Chiefs. Though I can recall only the last one. A Survivor's story by Air Marshal Gerald E Gibbs

We have the pictures from Gibbs book in our gallery as well as the pics from Elmhirst's book.

There is another book devoted to Vampires similar to the Robert Jackson' books on the Hunter

Rangudu
BRFite
Posts: 1751
Joined: 03 Mar 2002 12:31
Location: USA

Re: Books that cover IAF and its History

Postby Rangudu » 08 Aug 2002 20:41

Originally posted by Harry:
Rangudu,could you please email me the scans of those sections from WAPJ and Chris bishop's EAW?
Harry,

Pls email me at rangudu@fastmail.fm

Sree
BRFite
Posts: 103
Joined: 27 Nov 2001 12:31
Location: Southern Africa

Re: Books that cover IAF and its History

Postby Sree » 09 Aug 2002 16:29

Originally posted by Harry:
Sree,could you be a little bit more specific on how Victor bingham's book describes IAF performance and scores in the wars?(Especially in 1965).Please quote if possible.

... ?
Harry, I will, but please give me a few days. I have just returned to base after nearly five weeks' travel, and have a heckuva backlog. Apologies; I will get to it, I promise.

Guest

Re: Books that cover IAF and its History

Postby Guest » 09 Aug 2002 17:46

Rangudu - same here - Thanks

Subra

member_2594
BRFite -Trainee
Posts: 2
Joined: 11 Aug 2016 05:32

Re: Books that cover IAF and its History

Postby member_2594 » 12 Aug 2002 15:21

Hi!
Could somebody please tell me the accurate title of Ravi Reikhy's book on Pakistan AF (it went something like : FIza'ya) along with the publisher name.

Thanks.

Jagan
Webmaster BR
Posts: 3035
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30
Location: Earth @ Google.com
Contact:

Re: Books that cover IAF and its History

Postby Jagan » 12 Aug 2002 16:06

Originally posted by pankajc:
Hi!
Could somebody please tell me the accurate title of Ravi Reikhy's book on Pakistan AF (it went something like : FIza'ya) along with the publisher name.

Thanks.
It was "FIZA Ya: Psyche of the Pakistan Air Force" by Pushpindar Singh, Ravi Rikhye and Photographs by Peter Stienmann. I think the publisher is the Society for Aerospace Studies, but not sure. Try a search on Amazon.

Jagan

member_2594
BRFite -Trainee
Posts: 2
Joined: 11 Aug 2016 05:32

Re: Books that cover IAF and its History

Postby member_2594 » 12 Aug 2002 17:23

Thanks!

Jagan
Webmaster BR
Posts: 3035
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30
Location: Earth @ Google.com
Contact:

Re: Books that cover IAF and its History

Postby Jagan » 13 Aug 2002 16:20

Two Pakistani books that have come to my notice have plenty of information on the Pre -1947 IAF days. Both are autobiographical.

One is Gold Bird and the other is Winged Wagon. The latter is by Wg Cdr A B Awan , who was the in the first batch of IAF pilots. Gold Bird is a recent publication, and i heard it has some good information on several of IAF stalwarts like Mehar Singh, Latif, Majumdar etc.

Rangudu
BRFite
Posts: 1751
Joined: 03 Mar 2002 12:31
Location: USA

Re: Books that cover IAF and its History

Postby Rangudu » 14 Aug 2002 19:39

I have scanned the IAF/PAF related pages from the "Encyclopedia of Air Warfare" and the World Airpower Journal that I mentioned here.

Anyone interested please contact me at rangudu@fastmail.fm

Sree
BRFite
Posts: 103
Joined: 27 Nov 2001 12:31
Location: Southern Africa

Re: Books that cover IAF and its History

Postby Sree » 19 Aug 2002 02:56

(Warning: Long post ahead!!)

Victor Bingham's Gnat book

OK guys, as promised, here are my comments on (and some excerpts from) Victor Bingham's book, "Folland Gnat: Sabre-Slayer and Red Arrow", published in 2000; with the proviso that they are not exhaustive, and are oriented towards the points of interest previously shown by guys on this thread.

The first point to be made is that the book is largely a development history rather than an operational history. It is aimed at telling the story of the Gnat's development, the conceptual and technical problems it had to overcome, and the commercial and political constraints (particularly the lack of official British support for the Gnat / light fighter concept) which led to Folland's eventual absorption into Hawker Siddeley, en route to British Aerospace. It is not a detailed operational history or analysis, on the lines that some of us would have liked to see.

Then, as previously posted, the author has made it clear that the Indian Air Force and HAL did not respond to his "numerous written requests" for co-operation and information. (I don't know what to say, except once again that sometimes I could tear my own hair out!!) For the Indian operational story of the Gnat, he has therefore had to rely on third parties, published information, and "British personnel" (for which, on some occasions, I rather suspect, read John Fricker). So the story is often told from the Pakistani viewpoint rather than the Indian (to the point that Bingham has the names of the Pakistani pilots, and not of the Indian pilots, in some of the encounters he is describing). This means that the numbers of aircraft involved sound as though they are taken from Pakistani accounts (ie bumped-up numbers for the IAF aircraft and reduced numbers for PAF aircraft involved); and that damage caused by the Gnats is described from the other side, usually minimised.

However, I do feel that given all those constraints, Victor Bingham has made a genuine attempt to represent the record of the Gnat in Indian Air Force service honestly and positively. The result isn't perfect -- and it certainly isn't a mindless hagiography of the Gnat -- but given how widespread among British aviation writers the Pakistani version used to be, it is a huge improvement on most previous accounts. (In particular, he has clearly taken some previous British writings on the Sabre vs Gnat record with a gigantic pinch of salt.)

For starters, his tone is clearly respectful of the training and professionalism of both adversaries -- as I would expect from a writer who was a professional military aviator himself. On the actual combat record of the Gnat in the IAF, he writes as follows; my comments being in box brackets []:

On 1965:

- He does describe the "Sabre-Slayer" appelation as "possibly a touch of propaganda" [Which I am prepared to let pass, since he re-uses it so prominently in his own title]; but

- He adds, "... the Pakistan Air Force have claimed that not one Sabre was lost to a Gnat, but there appears to be a certain amount of inaccuracy about this statement, as will be related later" [And how!!];

- "Although the Hunter had a higher maximum speed and a greater acceleration than the Sabre, and the Gnat a faster climb speed than either, neither of these two aircraft could out-turn the Sabre, and were forced into a turning combat due to the known carriage of the Sidewinder missiles on the Sabre -- and in a combat it was never known which Sabres carried them!" [A disadvantage the IAF had to face, which I feel many historians do not sufficiently emphasise.]

- On the 3 Sept encounter: "The air war commenced with a Pakistan Air Force CAP ... From the Indian side Squadron Leader T Keelor led a section of Gnats ... Pakistan GCI gave the Sabres a vector to enemy jets at 36,000 feet [Surely that can't be right? The Mysteres were at 1,500 ft; the Gnats even lower] ... no contact was made. However four Gnats were seen climbing to the attack, so the overload tanks were punched and the Sabres pulled into a climbing turn. Flight Lieutenant Y Khan got a note indicating his Sidewinder was locked on, but then felt a number of thumps on the fuselage and saw two Gnats on his tail. [Keelor and Krishnaswamy? Or Pathania, and / or Sandhu and Gill?] ... upon opening up the engine ... the aircraft suffered excessive vibration ... Breaking off combat, Khan stuffed his aircraft's nose down and headed back to base. Landing his damaged aircraft at Sargodha, Khan was shocked to see how badly damaged his Sabre was, for as well as a burst tyre, most of the upper part of fin and rudder was damaged, as was the left elevator, and another shell had entered the fuselage behind the airbrake." [An awful lot of damage, for three shells -- which is all that some accounts concede hit Khan.]

- He accepts the Pakistani account, that Sikand "surrendered" to Hakimullah's F-104, though he describes it as " ... surprising ... at low altitude the F-104 was a 'dead turkey', and the Gnat could have run rings around it ... ";

- On the 4 Sept encounter: " ... four Gnats escorted four Mysteres ... Four more Gnats [Was it four more, or the same four??] led by Wing Commander [sic] Green were following ... they were instructed to intercept four Sabres attacking the Akhnoor bridge. Diving in to the attack, the section of Gnats were able to attack the Sabres before the F-104s sitting as top cover could take action, one of the Sabres fell to the guns of Flight Lieutenant V Pathania, the pilot ejecting safely, and another Sabre was claimed by the other three Gnats."

- He describes an inconclusive action on 8th Sept, between two Sabres, flown by Sqn Ldr Muniruddin [presumably Muniruddin Ahmed, KIA later in the war] and Flt Lt Choudry [presumably Cecil Chaudhry], and two Gnats, which is said to have resulted in damage to one of the Gnats. [??? I have not seen any account of this, in the Indian official history or in the BR account.]

- On the 13 Sept encounter, he writes that Flight Lieutenant Yusuf fired at and hit a Gnat, which was seen to be diving vertically in flames. The description of the encounter matches that in which No 2 Squadron lost Flt Lt AN Kale's Gnat; however Bingham writes that the IAF pilot, "Flight Lieutenant Bhapinder" died after nursing his aircraft back to base [??? Flt Lt AN Kale ejected safely];

- On the 18 Sept encounter, he gives a Pakistani version (that Sabres and AA brought down a Gnat each); but clearly does not believe it, and also gives a version crediting Sqn Ldr AJS Sandhu with a Sabre kill: "The opposite combat view was that on interception the Gnat section led by Squadron Leader A Sandhu, carried out a half roll, built up speed and climbed out. Sandhu aimed for a deflection shot on the first Sabre and saw shots strike home; then seeing another Sabre he reversed to the left and within 270 degrees in the turn came in line with the enemy aircraft, a quick burst ... and the Sabre burst into flames and exploded";

- On the 19 Sept encounters, he writes "The Gnats at approximately 300 feet pulled hard climbing turns ... a Gnat sub-section led by Flight Lieutenant V Kapila latched on to a Sabre as it took evasive actions following through until he had reduced the range to 500 yards when he fired ... and saw strikes on the Sabre. ... when at about 300 feet above the ground and at 300 yards behind the Sabre Kapila fired again and saw the Sabre explode on the ground". Further that "Squadron Leader Denzil Keelor meantime had latched onto a Sabre ... at treetop height and slipping in behind and at less than 500 yards fired ... ". He acknowledges that a Sabre flown by Flt Lt S Ahmed was so badly damaged that it crashed on landing; but also records the loss, in this encounter, of Flt Lt Mayadev's Gnat;

- On the 20 Sept encounter, Sabres against a composite of Gnats and Hunters, his description matches the Indian official and BR versions, in that we lost two Hunters, but a Gnat (Flt Lt AK Mazumdar, though Bingham doesn't identify him by name) brought down a Sabre;

*** Added later: *** He does repeat an old claim from the other side, that Gnats escorted the Canberras which carried out the resoundingly successful 21 Sept strike on Badin. I have been personally told, by the highly distinguished and credible officer who led that strike, that there was no escort. Well, if it makes the other side feel better ...

Overall, I think not too far out of line with the Indian official version -- though he misses Wg Cdr Bharat Singh's kill on 14 Sept (it was a manoeuvre kill; but then so was Alam's claim for Sqn Ldr AK Rawlley); and takes the position that Trevor Keelor's victim did manage to limp home. He does not provide an explicit For-&-Against kill-count, but if you count the above it comes to six victories (counting Trevor Keelor's -- which was a victory, if not a kill) and three losses (counting Flt Lt Kale, instead of "Bhapinder"). I can live with that. (The Indian official position, as all you guys know, is seven for three.)

On 1971:

- On the 22 Nov encounter, he gives the Indian version of three Sabres for no loss, and repeats, somewhat deadpan, the Pakistani claim that two Gnats were shot down;

- He also says, "The 11 December saw a Gnat of 18 Squadron prove its superiority over the Mirage IIIE when, during a high speed strike by PAF aircraft, a Gnat in defence slid in behind a Mirage as it pulled up and applied reheat, fired and claimed a kill as the Mirage went in" [I think this is inaccurate in many respects; though favourably to us rather than to Pakistan for once. We probably downgraded this to a Damaged rather than a Destroyed claim, later; it was on 10 Dec rather than 11 Dec; and if it was over Pathankot it was probably a Gnat of No 23 Sqn rather than No 18 (which iirc was Fg Offr NS Sekhon's unit) -- if Jagan, Samir, or anyone else knows better please shout!!];

- Finally, his account of the action for which Fg Offr NS Sekhon received his PVC: "Srinagar airfield ... was the target ... for six PAF Sabre Mk 6s. During the attack only one Gnat managed to fly off, this was flown by Flying Officer Nirmaljit Singh Sekhon, who whilst still at low level managed to score hits on two of the Sabres before his Gnat was shot down and he was killed -- posthumously being awarded the Indian Param Vir Chakra." [Conforms to the Indian official account, if somewhat brief and understated, I feel].

Btw the first few paragraphs of the chapter in which these encounters are described include a short, inaccurate summary of the Kashmir issue. Bingham is clearly ill-at-ease with the politics; so I would not waste too much of our collective energy in countering it.

I should add that given the focus of the book on the Gnat's development history rather than the operational, there is plenty of material on HAL's work with the Gnat, all of which is generally very positive and respectful. (In fact Bingham is probably more positive about HAL than some contemporary IAF personnel would be.) But as pointed out to me by an IAF veteran from that period, the book does not give sufficient credit to then-Wing Commander Suranjan Das's contribution, as a member of Folland's development team.

One interesting item of information he comes up with (which I certainly was not aware of before) was that the Indian government offered Wing Commander WEW Petter, the MD and Chief Designer of Folland, a position in India to establish a design bureau. It seems Wg Cdr Petter himself was initially interested but, for whatever reasons, the possibility didn't come to fruition. If it had, we might have had Wg Cdr Petter instead of, or in addition to, Dr Kurt Tank, as a contributor to the establishment of aerospace design capability in India. Interesting thought.

Trust you guys find this interesting. Regards,

Sree

Jagan
Webmaster BR
Posts: 3035
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30
Location: Earth @ Google.com
Contact:

Re: Books that cover IAF and its History

Postby Jagan » 19 Aug 2002 15:31

Sree,

Thanks very much for that indepth review of the Gnat book.

Pity about the IAF not extending help tough - that PR dept is one department we need to learn from the PAF on how to run.

Jagan

Sree
BRFite
Posts: 103
Joined: 27 Nov 2001 12:31
Location: Southern Africa

Re: Books that cover IAF and its History

Postby Sree » 21 Aug 2002 17:34

A small update, to my comments on Victor Bingham's book on the Gnat:

I have just read, thanks to Anandeep and Jagan, an article on the Gnat by Pushpindar Singh Chopra, published in Air International in 1974. Many of the small inaccuracies in Bingham's representation of the Gnat's encounters with the PAF are identical to those in this article. Bingham appears to have relied heavily on Pushpindar's account, to balance others, in his book.

So at least some of the inaccuracies (missing Bharat Singh's kill; the overclaim on the Mirage) are clearly not Bingham's fault -- he has taken parts of his story from an India-friendly source. All the more reason to feel, I think, that Bingham's book is an honest attempt; particularly given the lack of official co-operation from the IAF.

Regards,

Sree

Rangudu
BRFite
Posts: 1751
Joined: 03 Mar 2002 12:31
Location: USA

Re: Books that cover IAF and its History

Postby Rangudu » 21 Aug 2002 23:34

With much anticipation I ordered the following book:

"Air Warfare - The Encyclopedia of 20th Century Conflict" by Peter G. Cooksley.

The book is a Big piece of cr@p

I has no info about India or TSP!

300 odd pages and ZERO mention of India-Pakistan wars.

What a pile of crock! :mad:

Guest

Re: Books that cover IAF and its History

Postby Guest » 27 Aug 2002 17:19

Two books that i managed to glance thru recently

Marshal of the IAF: Arjan Singh by Group Captain Ranbir Singh

Review : thumbs down - No pictures, looks like a quickie to capitalise on the publicity.

Arjan Singh A Photo essay by Rupa and co publications. A small thin booklet with some rare unpublished photographs . Since it costs only Rs 95 , I would say well worth it.

-Jagan

ramana
Forum Moderator
Posts: 48785
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: Books that cover IAF and its History

Postby ramana » 28 Aug 2002 20:47

Book Review : Marshal of the Indian Air Force - Rupa & Co
----------------------
Marshal of the Indian Air Force
Rupa & Co.
August 28, 2002


Bigger Picture

More Pictures
Arjan Singh, DFC
Marshall of the Indian Air Force
Rupa Charitavali Series
Rupa & Co. India
Price: Rs 95
Pages 88

In April 2002, one of the legends of the Indian Air Force was honoured with the first five star rank of Marshall of the Indian Air Force. No one deserved the honour more than the famous flyer, Arjan Singh.

When Air Chief Marshall Arjan Singh strode up the dias to receive the Marshal's baton from the President of India, it was the crowning glory of a brilliant career. From facing the Japanese during World War II, to leading the Indian Air Force during the war of 1965-Arjan Singh and his men always ruled the skies.The followed years of distinguished service as a diplomat and LG Delhi.

Rupa and HindustanTimes.com present in pictures, the inspiring story of a leader who transformed the Air Force into a professional fighting force.

Jagan
Webmaster BR
Posts: 3035
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30
Location: Earth @ Google.com
Contact:

Re: Books that cover IAF and its History

Postby Jagan » 29 Aug 2002 12:47

Clicking on Ramana's link on the "More pictures"

http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/625_0019000100250004,0.htm

There are some good pics of Arjan Singh - Archival Material.

member_201
BRFite
Posts: 425
Joined: 11 Aug 2016 05:32

Re: Books that cover IAF and its History

Postby member_201 » 30 Aug 2002 05:20

Jagan
Member
Member # 123

posted 29 August 2002 03:28 AM
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Indian Air Force Official Website Updated.

Sent by Ashit

http://indianairforce.nic.in/airforce/afsqnmain1.htm

The link has some interesting updates on Fighter and Helicopter Sqns of the IAF. No.18 Sqn (Flying Bullets) especially makes a very interesting reading.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
IP: Logged

aditya.g
Member
Member # 3918

posted 29 August 2002 11:19 AM
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(1) IAF Website webmasters:

dicost@mantraonline.com

Shd be useful to BR.

(2)HQ Training Command, IAF
JC Nagar PO
Bangalore - 560 006

cchqtc@vsnl.net
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
IP: Logged

Rakesh Koshy
Member
Member # 200

posted 29 August 2002 06:49 PM
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The No.18 Squadron write-up gave me goose-bumps. Reading Fg. Off. Sekhon's last words over the RT was really chilling.

Indian
BRFite -Trainee
Posts: 5
Joined: 02 Nov 2001 12:31
Location: New York

Re: Books that cover IAF and its History

Postby Indian » 02 Sep 2002 03:35

A book on HAL

I could print its material here but I need the amins ok. I email them but they never reply back. I would love to share my books here with you all.

Gill ;)

member_2596
BRFite -Trainee
Posts: 7
Joined: 11 Aug 2016 05:32

Re: Books that cover IAF and its History

Postby member_2596 » 02 Sep 2002 14:11

Originally posted by D. Gill:
A book on HAL

I could print its material here but I need the amins ok. I email them but they never reply back. I would love to share my books here with you all.

Gill ;)
Gill

You are supposed to review the book and post info here - not <u>PUT THE ENTIRE BOOK</u> in this thread :lol:

So i dont think you need the admins okay for that.

Indian
BRFite -Trainee
Posts: 5
Joined: 02 Nov 2001 12:31
Location: New York

Re: Books that cover IAF and its History

Postby Indian » 02 Sep 2002 15:19

Damn! How am I suppose to review manouvers, tactics, history? There must be a way. Anyway let me try. The book I speak of is "Diamonds in the sky" Sixty years of HAL. Awesome pics, history of HAL etc. How do I review 60 years, except saying that India has some brain wiz chaps who are doing their darn best. hahah

Sorry

Sree
BRFite
Posts: 103
Joined: 27 Nov 2001 12:31
Location: Southern Africa

Re: Books that cover IAF and its History

Postby Sree » 04 Sep 2002 11:58

D. Gill, good luck!!

Here's another review, with a little sequel that I was personally involved in -- apologies for the shameless plug :) :

"Remains: A Story of the Flying Tigers" by Daniel Ford

This book is not a history; it's a novel, so perhaps doesn't fall strictly into the categories that Rangudu had in mind when he started this thread -- but hear me out, guys, if you have an interest in books touching on the IAF and its history:

"Remains" is a novel, describing the adventures of two young American pilots who flew with the Flying Tigers. (Aka The American Volunteer Group, a small mercenary air force that flew for the Chinese government in combat against the Japanese, in the Sino-Japanese theatre of WW2, even before the USA officially entered WW2. They are believed to have had a spectacularly good record in combat against the Japanese; though this was at least partly because the mercenary arrangements, which included bonus payments for Japanese aircraft confirmed as destroyed, tended to encourage and institutionalise over-claiming. After Pearl Harbour the AVG were absorbed into the regular US Army Air Corps, and their boss, Claire Chennault, was given a US general's rank.) The action takes place mostly in the period late 1941 to about March 1942 in Burma, which covers the last stages of the Flying Tigers' actions in Burma before the fall of Rangoon to the Japanese.

The IAF connection is that this was the precise period when No 1 Squadron, IAF, served its first tour in Burma, flying Westland Lysanders. Dan Ford, the author (who is generally impeccably accurate in his historic research and his details of historic, technical and social background), brings No 1 Sqn, IAF into the background of this novel, and makes several references to them; all without exception full of respect. Among other references, there are points where he says:

- The only effective bombings during this period were those carried out by No 1 Sqn, IAF, in their Lysanders (which were only improvised, to act as bombers -- their assigned task was Army co-op);

- When a combat rescue is being contemplated, of a downed American pilot, there is a consensus that the pilots of No 1 Sqn, IAF, in their Lysanders, are the only people who can get into and out of the tiny field into which the American pilot has put his P-40 down; and

- Towards the end of the campaign, as airstrips around Rangoon are being abandoned, one of the Americans needs to go back into Rangoon for personal reasons; and the only pilot he can find willing to take him into Rangoon, at a point in history when nearly everyone else is trying to get away from Rangoon, is Sqn Ldr KK "Jumbo" Majumdar, CO No 1 Sqn IAF.

The one tiny historic inaccuracy in the novel is that Dan Ford represents Jumbo Majumdar as a Sikh. Because his historic background is so accurate in every other respect, I wrote to the author, offering this correction. He responded with a very nice acknowledgement, and has recently placed a small write-up on Jumbo, acknowledging his own earlier error, on the web, at the following url:

http://www.danford.net/jumbo.htm

So, although the connection is relatively minor, this is definitely a book that leaves you with a feel-good sense about the IAF. (And its reputation, among the well-informed.)

Btw, Jagan had earlier placed a link to the "Remains" page on Dan Ford's own website, which is at:

http://www.danford.net/remains.htm

So I hope I'm not reproducing info that's known to everyone else here!

Regards,

Sree

Jagan
Webmaster BR
Posts: 3035
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30
Location: Earth @ Google.com
Contact:

Re: Books that cover IAF and its History

Postby Jagan » 04 Sep 2002 12:40

"A tip of the virtual hat to Sree Kumar of Zambia, who brought this information to my attention"


Sree,

Heres a thumbsup for you <img src="http://www.plauder-smilies.de/happy/xyxthumbs.gif" alt="" />

Great job in getting dan to write more about Jumbo.

Jagan

Sree
BRFite
Posts: 103
Joined: 27 Nov 2001 12:31
Location: Southern Africa

Re: Books that cover IAF and its History

Postby Sree » 04 Sep 2002 13:43

Originally posted by Jagan:


...

Great job in getting dan to write more about Jumbo.

Jagan
Jagan, that was precisely my intention, of course!!

Thanks for the thumbs-up; but all I did was point him at you!! (Or to be more accurate, at the B-R IAF History pages ... )

JCage
BRFite
Posts: 1562
Joined: 09 Oct 2000 11:31

Re: Books that cover IAF and its History

Postby JCage » 05 Sep 2002 00:45

A thumbs up to both Jagan and Sree for their hard work.

--------
Majumdar was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his leadership of 1 Squadron in Burma, the first Indian officer to be so honored in World War II. After two years in staff and flying assignments, Majumdar returned to the front as a wing commander, flying Spitfires in 268 Squadron RAF during the allied invasion of Europe. He was awarded a "bar" (equivalent to a U.S. oak leaf cluster) to his DFC, meaning that he'd won it twice, the only Indian officer so honored
One hell of a fighter pilot,thats for sure.
Sad that the hurricane claimed him. :(

Regards,
Nitin

Jagan
Webmaster BR
Posts: 3035
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30
Location: Earth @ Google.com
Contact:

Re: Books that cover IAF and its History

Postby Jagan » 13 Sep 2002 14:50

http://www.dive-bombers.co.uk/Vengeance.htm

A Book on Vultee Vengeances by Peter Smith.

Read the webpage for more details.

dsandhu
BRFite
Posts: 110
Joined: 07 Aug 1999 11:31

Re: Books that cover IAF and its History

Postby dsandhu » 17 Sep 2002 20:12

A Delightful account of an ace pilot

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2002/20020915/spectrum/book6.htm

Another review of the book about Arjan Singh published by Rupa

Rangudu
BRFite
Posts: 1751
Joined: 03 Mar 2002 12:31
Location: USA

Re: Books that cover IAF and its History

Postby Rangudu » 06 Oct 2002 18:35

BRites,

http://www.indianexpress.com/full_story.php?content_id=10683

Faqir Syed Aijazuddin Khan is a very successful chartered accountant based in Lahore. I met him at one of those usual Lahore dinner parties in August and he spoke of his fascination for something as arcane-sounding as archival research. He was bustling with nuggets from his three-month research at the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington D.C. on the declassified documents on their foreign policy towards the subcontinent in the 1969-74, and because I sounded so fascinated, an advance copy of his book came to me as my reward. This newspaper will be serialising extracts from the book The White House & Pakistan, Secret Declassified Documents, 1969-74 published by Oxford University Press, in the next several days.
We need to get a hold of this book to see the truth about 1971.

Rangudu
BRFite
Posts: 1751
Joined: 03 Mar 2002 12:31
Location: USA

Re: Books that cover IAF and its History

Postby Rangudu » 06 Oct 2002 20:41

I just read this book:

War in Peace - Volume 6 (1962-69) published by - Marshall Cavendish, NY

Excerpts:

The Indian Air Force enjoyed a clear numerical superiority over its Pakistani opponents - 775 combat aircraft against 141 - but its equipment was of a poorer quality and was widely dispersed. India's 130 obsolescent Vampire jet fighters were withdrawn from combat after four were shot down in the first serious engagement of the air war on 1 September 1965.

India deployed MiG-21s against Pakistan's F-104 Starfighters - the first time that Mach-2 fighetrs had met in combat - but their involvement in the fighting was marginal. The battle for air superiority was fought between Pakistan's F-86 Sabres and India's Folland Gnats, Hawker Hunters and Mysteres. Some of Pakistan's Sabres were equipped with Sidewinder missiles.

By the end of the war, India had lost atleast 35 aircraft including some 14 Hunters, nine Mysteres and 3 Gnats. Pakistani losses totalled 19 - 13 Sabres, 2 Starfighters and four Martin B-57s.

Jagan
Webmaster BR
Posts: 3035
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30
Location: Earth @ Google.com
Contact:

Re: Books that cover IAF and its History

Postby Jagan » 08 Oct 2002 14:59

Pankaj Mangalik
Member
Member # 4721

posted 06 October 2002 10:48 PM
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
AIR POWER ANALYSIS

International Air Power Review, Summer 2002

Indian Air Force by Jon Lake

The Indian Air Force is today the world’s fourth largest air arm, and enjoys a formidable reputation. It also has a long distinguished history. The IAF is well equipped with a range of modern and upgraded aircraft from both Western and Russian sources, and embraces every air power role, from elementary training to nuclear strike.

Indian Air Force – Bharartiya Vayu Sena: History

The Indian Air Force has probably gained more operational experience since 1945 than any other air arm, and has done so against top-quality opposition. The Israeli Air Force has fought wars against its Arab neighbours in 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973, and 1982 but many of its operations have been very brief, and rather one-sided. India’s Air Force has sometimes been more closely matched against its opposition, and has undertaken wars of attrition, in which small advantages have had to be fought for with grim determination.

The Indian Air Force has built upon firm foundations, having been established under RAF auspices on 8 October 1932. The new air arm formed a Flight-strength unit with four Westland Wapitis on 1 April 1933, with six RAF-trained officers and 19 sepoys. This unit, ‘A’ Flight of a planned No. 1 Squadron went into action in 1937 in North Waziristan, supporting Indian Army operations against insurgent Bhittani tribesmen. By the time war broke out, No. 1 Squadron was up to full strength, with three Flights. An IAF Volunteer Reserve was then formed, parenting five Coastal Defence Flights, and these soon formed the basis of new squadrons, which were then thrown into action against the advancing Japanese.

By 1944, the IAF included squadrons equipped with modern Spitfires, Hurricanes and Vengeance dive-bombers, and played a major role in driving Japanese forces from Burma, while establishing a reputation for courage efficiency. The re-naming of the force as the Royal Indian Air Force marked official British recognition of this contribution.

Spitfire squadrons

India re-equipped all of its front-line fighter squadrons with Spitfires by the middle of 1946, and in August 1945, one of these – No. 4 Squadron – was designated as a component part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces in Japan, deploying aboard HMS Vengeance and arriving in the enemy homeland on 23 April 1946, having just exchanged its Merlin-engined Spitfire Mk VIIIs for Griffon-powered Mk XIVs.

Plans were already underway to provide a more balanced force structure, with transport and bomber units. The IAF also planned to re-equip its Spitfire fighter units with Centaurus-engined Tempest Mk Iis, with No. 3 Squadron at Kolar becoming the first to re-equip in the autumn of 1946.

Britain had envisaged a post-war Royal Indian Air Force of almost twice its wartime size, with 20 squadrons of fighters, bombers, and transports, though these planes were put on hold as independence and partition approached. In the event, the Royal Indian Air Force actually shrank as it was divided to allow the formation of separate Indian and Pakistani Air Arms.

India was partitioned on 15 August 1947, and the two new states were soon in conflict. The RIAF was quickly in action. On 27 October 1947, No. 12 Squadron air-lifted Sikh troops from Palam into Srinagar to repulse insurgent forces pouring across the new border into Jammu and Kashmir, and India soon committed Advanced Flying School Spitfires and front-line Tempests to strafe the advancing enemy forces.

Fighting between India and Pakistan finally ended after some 15 months, and a ceasefire eventually took effect on 1 January 1949. Throughout the period, however, reorganization and modernization of the RIAF continued.

After the campaign, the RIAF acquired its first heavy bombers, simply refurbishing some of the redundant USAAF and RAF B-24 Liberators which were in storage at the immense Care and Maintenance Unit Depot at Kanpur and abandoned elsewhere. In the same month that the refurbished Liberators emerged from HAL, the RIAF also received its first jet fighters, in the shape of three de Havilland Vampires – the first of an eventual 400. These would even include Vampire NF.Mk 54 night fighters which re-equipped No. 10 Squadron at Palam in May 1953, providing India with its first modern night fighting capability.

RAF links maintained

The Air Force dropped its Royal prefix in January 1950, as India became a republic within the British Commonwealth, but links with the RAF remained strong. The IAF modelled itself on the RAF, and proudly retained the same rank and unit structure, while emulating RAF training methods and relying on the RAF’s Central Flying School to train the first of its flying schools’ instructors.

Expansion of the Air Force was accorded a high priority, and in 1955 an Auxiliary Air Force (previously raised at the beginning of World War II) was resurrected. Seven units (Nos 51 to 57 squadrons) were formed, initially operating HT-2 trainers, but later converting to the Vampire jet fighter from 1959.

During the 1950s, India quite deliberately pursued a policy of arms diversification, reducing its reliance on the UK as its sole source of weapons. The first of over 100 Dassault Ouragans (known as Toofanis in IAF service), were delivered to Palam on 24 October 1953, and these were soon followed (in 1957) by 110 Mystere IVs. US equipment came with more ‘strings’ and although India did receive 79 Fairchild C-119G Flying Boxcars, acquiring front-line US types was never a real, meaningful possibility.

India turned to the USSR with similar caution, acquiring a small fleet of transport aircraft, initially purchasing eight Antonov An-12s, 24 Ilyushin IL-14s and 10 Mi-4 helicopters. The An-12 fleet was subsequently expanded through the purchase and loan of further aircraft, while the Mi-4 fleet eventually reached 120 helicopters. Both types quickly proved of enormous usefulness and value. There were also early successful examples of indigenisation , with the HT-2 primary trainer proving effective and popular in service.

While India diversified its sources of weapons, Britain remained vitally important and 1957 saw the beginning of procurement of Canberra bombers and Hawker Hunter fighters, and these (together with license-built Vampires) formed the backbone of the IAF’s expansion from 15 to 33 squadrons, though six front-line units were formed on Vampires as interim equipment. 1957 also saw the retirement of No. 14 Squadron’s last Spitfire F.Mk 18s, the last piston-engined fighters remaining in IAF service. From 1960, the new Hunters and Canberras were soon joined by large numbers of Folland Gnats, 23 of these built by the parent company, 20 supplied in kit form, and the remainder built under license by HAL as the Ajeet.

The new Canberras were soon in action with six B(I).Mk 58s of No. 5 Squadron being committed to support United Nations operations in the Congo (later Zaire) during 1961-62. The aircraft were flown from Agra to Central Africa, and operated from Leopoldville and Kamina, from which they provided the US ground forces with their only long-range air support. The Canberras raided Katangan targets and soon destroyed the rebel air force.

The IAF’s new helicopters and transports were also heavily used during the brief border war with China between 20 October and 20 November 1962, operating at very high altitudes. In the wake of this conflict, the Indian Government sanctioned a further expansion (to 45 squadrons), even thought the 33 squadron target had not yet been achieved. India gained a further arms supplier immediately after the war, acquiring de Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribous from the Canadian Government.

Having expected to face threats only from the west, the IAF had originally followed the RAF model of functional commands, but the realization that the country faced similarly dangerous threats on both of its major borders led to a major restructuring, with three multi-function geographically-based operational commands, one in the east, facing China, one in the west facing Pakistan, and a central command providing defence in depth and capable of reinforcing either front if required. This followed the earlier establishment of a dedicated Maintenance Command in 1955.

The first ‘Fishbeds’

In August 1962, India had decided to procure combat aircraft (and not just support types) from the USSR, and this decision resulted in the acquisition of an initial batch of 12 Mig 21F-13 interceptors and some SA-2 ‘Guideline’ SAMs. The Mig 21s were still not operational when Pakistani armour pushed across the border in the Chamb sector on 1 September 1965, and though they did fly local CAPs during the ensuing war, aircraft like the Hunter, Canberra, Gnat and Mystere bore the brunt of the fighting.

Pakistan proved far more adept in advertising its successes, and in releasing detailed records of at least some of its losses and kill claims, which India failed to challenge, leading many observers to assume that Pakistan had ‘won’ the war. This was far from the truth, although Pakistani probably scored more air-to-air kills than India. At the same time, the IAF was beginning to demonstrate a degree of superiority by the time the war drew to a close, and the PAF proved entirely unable to restrict Indian Canberra operationis. Losses on both sides were similarly heavy, however, and each side suffered setbacks. While the IAF learned some painful lessons from the conflict, the air arm performed extremely well, especially in the offensive support and interdiction roles.

One of the lessons emerging from the war was ‘the obsolescence of aircraft like the Vampire, and the aging Liberators still used in the maritime patrol role. The B-24s gave way to former Air India Constellations, while larger number of Mig 21 FLs were ordered to form the backbone of the IAF’s fighter arm (nine squadrons re-equipped with the type between 1966 and 1969). The first of these were delivered in flyaway condition, but subsequent batches were delivered in kit form. With continuing delays to the indigenous HAL HF-24 Marut, the IAF ordered large numbers of Su-7BMs to re-equip a number of fighter-bomber squadrons.

Expansion of the force also continued apace, so that by the end of 1968, the IAF included 42 fixed-wing squadrons, including 23 fighter and fighter-bomber units and three Canberra bomber squadrons. The long-standing 45-squadron goal was soon achieved afterwards.

Great efforts were made to improve operational readiness, and training was refined to better reflect operational requirements. Front-line types like the Mig-21, Canberra, and Gnat (which had been delivered in natural metal or silver finish) were increasingly camouflaged, and after encountering PAF Sabres armed with Sidewinders, the acquisition of AAMs became a priority.

The early days of 1971 saw attention switching from aircraft to infrastructure. The Air Force Academy at Dundigal (near Hydrebad) was inaugurated in January 1971, while planning for a new Air Defense Ground Environment System (ADGES) began in March.

1971 war with Pakistan

Another war between India and Pakistan broke out in late November 1971, after Pakistani forces put down an uprising in East Pakistan with great brutality, forcing India to intervene. Pakistan then mounted pre-emptive strikes against the IAF in the West, triggering a full-scale war, which India rapidly came to dominate. Pakistan was again better at advertising its claims (and at hiding many of its losses) than was the IAF, though it is now clear that air-to-air kills and losses were very closely balanced. More significantly, some 80 percent of the IAF’s sorties were close support or interdiction missions, and the IAF performed with distinction in the air-to-ground role. The PAF failed to conduct an effective offensive air campaign, or to prevent the IAF from achieving its objectives, and the war ended in a clear defeat for Pakistan.

Hunters and Canberras again played a vital role in India’s air campaign, though newly acquired types also played their part. The IAF’s six squadrons of Mig-21s performed with some success, in both the air-to-air and air-to-ground roles, while the new Su-7BMK flew large number of sorties, suffering heavy losses.

The 1971 war demonstrated the vital importance of the IAF, and maintaining the air arm’s capability was accorded a high priority. Within a few years of the conflict a range of requirements had been issued, and these would result in the induction of a whole new generation of combat aircraft, while the development and refinement of training and tactics continued apace.

After a period of relative calm during the 1970s and 1980s, the Indian Air Force found itself in action against at the end of the decade, in Operations Meghdoot, Pawan, and Cactus. Operation Meghdoot was mounted from April 1984 in support of the Indian Army (and paramilitary forces) in Northern Ladakh, as they wrestled to secure control of the Siachen Glacier, often dubbed the ‘roof of the world’. IAF An-12s, An-32s and IL-76s transported men and material into the region, and air-dropped supplies to high-altitude airfields. Meanwhile, Chetak, Cheetah, Mi-8 and Mi-17 helicopters ferried troops and supplies to altitudes that were far above the limits set by the helicopter manufacturers.

From 1987, the IAF was heavily involved in Operation Pawan, supporting the Indian Peacekeeping Force (IPKF) in northern and eastern Sri Lanka. The IAF flew 70,000 sorties in the 30-month campaign, maintaining a continuous link between air bases in southern India and the various Indian Divisional headquarters at Palaly (Jaffna), Vavuniya, Trincomalee and Batticaloa. The main types involved were the An-32, the Mi-8, and Mi-17, while the Mi-25s of No. 125 HU were used to interdict clandestine coastal and riverine traffic, and to provide close air support when required.

Operation Cactus was the name given to the Indian special forces operation mounted in response to the Maldives Government’s appeal for military help against a mercenary invasion. On 3 November 1988, Indian Air Force IL-76s airlifted a parachute battalion group from Agra to the Maldives, where they landed at 0030 hours on 4 November, securing the airfield and restoring government rule within hours. The IAF’s transport force brought in more troops later that day, and Mirage 2000s made low-level passes over the scattered islands of the Maldives archipelago in an impressive show of force.

Indian Air Force – Bharatiya Vayu Sena: Equipment Review

Between 1978 and 1988 launched a major modernization program, and though aircraft like the Canberra and Hunter would continue in service in small numbers for another two decades or more, they would be soon replaced in front-line service by much newer aircraft types. Requirements issued in the wake of the 1971 war are largely responsible for the overall shape of the Indian Air Force today.

Air Defense

Today, the IAF’s front-line strength is increasingly composed of multi-role units, and relatively few squadrons have a pure air defense commitment. The introduction of the General Dynamics F-16 by the PAF in 1982 forced India to respond. In the interim, two squadrons of Mig-23MF air superiority fighters, equipped with R-23 (AA-7 ‘Apex’) beyond-visual range missiles, were hurriedly rushed into service, equipping a single wing at Adampur in Western Air Command. However, the Mig-23MF was never considered as an adequate counterbalance to the PAF’s F-16s and, in 1982, India also places orders for two squadrons of Mirage 2000Hs. IAF pilots and technicians underwent conversion training at Mont de Marsan and ferried the first Mirage 2000s to India during the summer of 1985. This initial order comprised 36 single-seat Mirage 2000Hs and four two-seat Mirage 2000THs.

With their relatively long range, the two Mirage 2000 squadrons were stationed at Gwalior in Central Air Command. Soon afterwards in 1984, India evaluated the new Russian Mig-29 (becoming the first export customer to do so) and finally ordered two squadrons worth (42 single-seaters and six or eight twin-stickers) in 1986, initially stationing these at Pune.

It soon became clear that the IAF was ‘hedging its bets’ and that these early batches of Mirage 2000s and Mig 29s were intended for prolonged operational evaluation, after which one type would be ordered in much larger quantities, probably with large-scale license production.

Had the Mirage 2000 been selected, there were plans to order 110 further aircraft, including between 55 and 65 indigeneously manufactured aircraft, while production of the Mig-29 was expected to be even larger. In the event, the Mirage 2000 proved expensive and maintenance-intensive, while the Mig-29’s short range, lack of multi-role capability and poor spares support mitigated against increasing the ‘Fulcurum’ fleet.

Thus, the IAF received a top-up attrition batch of six Mirage 2000Hs and three THs in 1987, while batches of 20 and 10 Mig-20s were delivered (allowing the formation of a third squadron) in 1989 and 1995. A further 10 Mirage 2000THs have been ordered as attrition/reserves, though the fact that all are two-seaters might indicate that they will be used to boost the Mirage 2000’s fleet’s air-to-ground capabilities. Delivery of the new batch might also be connected to reports that India has ordered, or is about to order, pod-mounted Elta El/M-2060 synthetic aperture radars for the IAF’s Mirage 2000H fighters, presumably for use in the air-to-ground and reconnaissance roles.

For a while, it seemed likely that the longer range, multi-role Mig-29M would be acquired instead, but the failure of the Russian air forces to order this version sealed its fated, and India began to look elsewhere for its definitive air defense fighter. While further Mig-29 orders by the IAF are unlikely, the Indian Navy is showing interest in the type, and Air Force aircraft are expected to undergo an ambitious upgrade with early aircraft being brought up to the same standard as India’s newest ‘Fulcurms’ which, according to some reports, are Mig-29Ses capable of firing R-77 AAMs. The Mig-29s are also expected to gain an inflight-refueling probe and perhaps even an electronically scanned (phased array) radar.

Multi-role Flanker

Eventually, India settled on the two-seat Su-30, in its multi-role SU-30MKI form. An initial batch of 40 was ordered in November 1996, and orders for 10 more followed soon afterwards. India did not order an ‘off-the-shelf’ version of the aircraft, but instead required a new multi-role, PGM-capable aircraft with thrust-vectoring engine nozzles, canard foreplanes and an avionics suite blending Russian, French, and Indian systems. The SU-30 programme was thus extremely ambitious and complex, and a complicated delivery schedule was drawn up, under which batches of aircrafts would be delivered which would come progressively closer to the final standard. The final batch, to be delivered in 2003, would be full-standard Su-30MKIs, after which earlier aircraft would be retrofitted to the same standard.

Thanks to Russia’s economic problems, development problems and delays in defining the avionics suite, the Su-30 program was drastically delayed. The first eight aircraft (to little more than SU-27UB trainer standards, albeit fitted with retractable inflight-refuelling probes) were received on ‘schedule’, but only 10 more (to the same standard) have been delivered since then, while there have been suggestions that the thrust-vectoring system originally intended for the Indian aircraft has been cancelled, requiring the development and integration of an alternative system. These problems did not prevent India signing a contract on 28 December 2000 for the license manufacture of some 140 further Su-30MKIs, the first of which is due to roll out in 2004. There have been reports that India might consider cutting back (or even canceling) this order in favour of an order for or two squadrons of Mirage 2000D fighter-bombers, and there have been reports that Dassault Aviaition has offered India 18 Mirage 2000Ds. Although the D is the conventional version of the Armee de l’Air 2000N, Indian reports suggested that the new aircraft would be tandem-seat fighter-bombers ‘hard-wired’ for the carriage of nuclear weapons.

At the time of writing, however, India has only a single Su-30 squadron, based at Pune within Southwestern Air Command. Meanwhile, the last Mig-23MF squadron moved from Adampur t Jamnagar in 1997, becoming a BVR training and trials and target-towing unit, replacing Kalaikunda’s recently retired Hawker Hunters.

Mirages for attack

The 18 Su-30s of No. 24 Squadron do not yet have any meaningful air-to-ground capability, but the 40 remaining Mirage 2000Hs (and four THs) have proved to be useful PGM delivery platforms, and the type’s availability in the air defense role is thus constrained. Meanwhile, Mig-29 availability has been severely constrained by poor serviceability, inadequate factory support and spares shortages, and far fewer than the 67 survivors (plus about six UBs) nominally on charge are actually available for use. At one stage during the early 1990s, for example, Mig-29 availability was less than 55 percent, by comparison with the 75 percent achieved at the end of the 1980s. Altogether, these factors have left the bulk of the IAF’s air defence commitments in the hands of 10 squadrons of about 200 Mig-21bis aircraft, and three squadrons with about 63 Mig-21FLs.

India received 75 Soviet-built ‘third-generation’ Mig-21bis aircraft during the 1970s and assembled or built 220 more, bringing total Indian Mig-21 procurement to more than 830 aircraft. Three Gnat air defense squadrons (Nos 15, 21, and 23) were re-equipped with the Russian-built Mig-21bis aircraft in 1976-77, and further units converted as HAL-built aircraft became available. During the 1980s the IAF’s Mig-21Ms and Mig-21bis were modified to carry the Matra R550 Magic II AMM, and later the Russian R-60 (AA-8 Aphid) AAM. Some Mig-21bis were also retrofitted with a new head-up display (HUD), but the aircraft remained without BVR armament.

At one time it was assumed that the Mig-21 would be replaced by a mix of Mirage 2000s and Mig-29s, and by the new, indigenous LCA, or Light Combat Aircraft, but as problems and delays made this progressively more distant, the decision was taken to upgrade some Mig-21bis aircraft for further service. Under this upgrade, some 125 Mig-21bis will be brought to Mig-21bis-UPG standards, with HAL incorporating the upgrade using kits supplied by the SOKOL plant in Nizhny Novogorod, following the conversion of the first two aircraft in Russia.

The main aim of the upgrade was to make the Mig-21bis fleet BVR-capable, and to achieve this, the Mig-21bis was fitted with the lightweight Super Kopyo multi-mode radar, and gained provision for the Vympel R-77 AAM. The aircraft also gained a new IRST, a helmet mounted sight, new avionics and a comprehensive defensive aids suite. The Mig-21bis UPG will remain a multi-role aircraft, and has gained some PGM capabilities, using a range of TV and laser guided bombs, and the Kh-31 ASM. The first 36 upgrade kits arrived in India during the last quarter of 1999, delayed by two years due to center of gravity problems and other minor difficulties.

Those Mig-21bis aircraft which are not upgraded (and the remaining ageing Mig-21FLs) are expected to be retired imminently, perhaps even without being replaced. In an effort to simplify logistics and improve operational flexibility, the IAF has successfully integrated Western air-to-air missiles with some of its Soviet-designed aircraft. Mig-21s were made compatible with the Magic II AAM some years ago, while some reports suggest that, more recently, the air force’s Mig-29s have been adapted to carry the Super 530D.

There are also reports that the Mirage 2000 has been modified to carry Soviet missiles. There are suggestions that Mirage 2000s operating over Kargil in the summer of 1999 were armed with R-73 AAMs, and that the type may also now be compatible with the R-27 AAM, though the latter seems unlikely.

Ground-based air defense

Air defense is not only a matter of manned fighters, however, and the deployment of nuclear weapons by both India and Pakistan has placed greater emphasis on the importance of land-based air defense systems. The Air Defense Ground Environment System (ADGES) and the Base Air Defense Zones (BADZ) are two linked components of a well-integrated air defense network, controlling a variety of sensors and SAM units and manned fighters from both the Air Force and the Navy. The ADGES is based upon a chain of picket radars strung out along the western and northern borders, augmented by a series of mobile systems usually deployed to the northeast and south of the country, together with a string of visual Mobile Observation Posts, and a smaller chain of longer range radars controlled by the Air Defense Control Centers. The ADGES network is responsible for overall airspace management and for the detection of intruders, and coordinates the air defense of large-area targets.

Base Air Defense Zones, by contrast, are tasked with the defense of individual high-value targets and are limited to an arc of 62 miles. These represent a dense, high-threat environment for attacking aircraft, with layers of long-range SAMs, L-40/70 radar-directed 40-mm anti-aircraft guns and manportable Igla-1M SAMs.

The ADGES is currently being upgraded with new Indian and Israeli radar systems, and has been hardened and given multiple-redundant layers to enable it to survive an enemy first strike. Meanwhile, the IAF’s first SA-3 Pechora SAMs are also being fitted with more sensitive seeker heads, pending the service introduction of the next-generation Akash SAM and the associated Rajendra phased-array radar.

In order to protect against the threat of ballistic missile attack the current sensor network needs to be substantially upgraded in order to detect and track missile launches. Reports suggest that the Russian S-300 SAM is being considered to provide the cornerstone of the planned ATBM defenses, and has undergone trials in India.

Offensive air operations

Compared to most air arms in the developing world, the Indian Air Force has always placed considerable emphasis on the air-to-ground role, acquiring and operating a succession of dedicated jet fighter-bombers, and a significant force of Canberra medium bombers.

In the future, the IAF’s new Su-30s are expected to form the backbone of the force’s strike/attack fleet. The public relations line was that a single Su-30 will be able to deliver as much ordinance as an entire squadron of Mig-21FLs, at greater ranges, and with greater accuracy.

The early aircraft delivered so far have only the most basic and reversionary air-to-ground capability, however, and the first Su-30 aircrew are understood to have trained only for air combat. India’s Comptroller and Auditor General published a damning report condemning shortcomings in the Su-30K’s electronic warfare and weapon delivery systems, and criticizing the delayed delivery schedule. The electronic warfare system was felt to be unable to cope with the Indian threat environment while radar performance was said to be ‘below expectations’, while the navigation system lacked accuracy and was thought to be insufficient to guarantee accurate weapon delivery. The aircraft’s weapon systems controls were also said to be ‘poorly integrated’. The Su-30K’s generous payload was recognized and praised, but the Comptroller and Auditor General noted that it did not include any of the precision-guided munitions which had proved essential in the Kargil’s operations.

Unusually, the Mirage 2000, acquired as an interceptor, has been pressed into service in an offensive role. It is understood that the size and weight of the first Indian nuclear weapons was such that the Jaguar was seriously constrained when carrying them, and the Mirage 2000 was hastily pressed into service as the IAF’s primary strike aircraft. When a second generation of nuclear weapons was produced, it could be carried by the Jaguar and Mig-27, although, manned platforms have already lost their atomic monopoly. It is, however believed that the IAF is entrusted with the operation of India’s emerging force of nuclear armed missiles, which is understood to include unspecified numbers of Agni IRBMs and Prithivi SRBMs. Manned platforms have sufficient reach to deter Pakistan, but until long-range missiles are deployed, India’s ability to inflict more than peripheral damage on China will be seriously restricted. The IAF is likely to remain India’s sole strategic nuclear strike force for some years, although some believe that the Navy may assume a strike role when it deploys cruise missiles or when and if it leases or purchases Tu-22Ms.

The IAF’s two Mirage 2000H squadrons have also increasingly been used in the air-to-ground role, thanks to their long-range and to the easy integration of Litening laser designator pods and SAMP LGBs. The Indian deltas demonstrated this new PGM capability to devastating effect during the 1999 Kargil war, and the success resulted in the swift procurement of additional laser-guidance kits for standard 1,000-lb bombs from Elbit Computers of Israel. The Mirage 2000 has reportedly maintained the highest serviceability of any type in IAF service and is popular with air and ground crew alike, though there are too few Mirages available, and other, older types still perform the bulk of the IAF’s offensive missions.

Indian Jaguars

During the 1970s, the IAF’s most urgent requirement (dating from 1966) was for a Deep Penetration Strike Aircraft (DPSA), to replace the aging Canberras and Hunters still being used in that role. Acquisition of 150 Jaguars was finally approved in 1978, with 40 BAC-built aircraft to be followed by 110 aircraft from HAL, 45 to be assembled from UK-supplied kits, and 65 which would incorporate progressively greater local content.

An interim batch of 18 ex-RAF Jaguars was provided on loan to equip the first IAF Jaguar unit, No. 14 Squadron, and these were ferried to India by their pilots in July 1979 after the latter completed their conversion training with the RAF and British Aerospace at Lossiemouth, Coltishall and Warton.

The 40 BAC-built Jaguars were delivered from March 1981, allowing No. 14 Squadron to return its ‘loan aircraft’, and allowing No. 5 Squadron to retire its ancient Canberras. A proposal by India to purchase eight of the loan aircraft came to nothing, but one was retained for trials. The 35 single-seaters were similar to RAF GR.Mk 1s, with NAVWASS avionics, and were powered by Adour Mk 804E engines, similar to the Adour 104s introduced in RAF aircraft from 1978. Five of the aircraft were two-seaters equivalent to RAF T.Mk 2s. AS Jaguar Internationals, the Indian single-seaters had overwing hardpoints for missile launch rails, and these were eventually activated to allow the carriage of Matra R550 Magic AAMs.

The number of Jaguars assembled and built by HAL was reduced from 110 to 74 (but later increased again to a current total of 129, with deliveries continuing). The HAL-built Batch 3 aircraft were powered by Adour Mk 811 engines, and were fitted with a MIL STD 1553B digital databus, and a new locally integrated DARIN (Display Attack and Ranging Inertial Navigation) nav-attack system, incorporating a wide field-of-view Smiths HUDWAC, a GEC-Ferranti Combined Map & Electronic Display, and a SAGEM ULISS 82 INS. These HAL Jaguars reequipped with Nos 27 and 16 Squadrons at Gorakhpur, while 12 aircraft were delivered with nose-mounted Agave radar and compatibility with the Sea Eagle ASM, and these equipped No. 6 Squadron for anti-shipping.

Indian Jaguars are acknowledged by some India-based Internet sites as having a nuclear strike capability (with the introduction of a second-generation of lighter weapons). They also carry a wide range of conventional weapons, including a Hunting BL755 CBUs, slick and retarded RAF-type 1,000-lb bombs, Matra 250-kg and 400-kg bombs, Matra Durandal anti-runway bombs, Lepus 8-in recce flares and Matra F1 and 155 (SNEB) rocket pods, and in recent years, a range of LGBs. The BAC-built Jaguars used by the Ambala wing (Nos.5 and 14 Squadrons) also have a recce commitment, using BAE recce pods and some of the 24 Vinten VICON 18 Srs 601 (GP) pods supplied more recently, and understood to be shared with the Mig-27 force.

Seventeen two-seat Jaguar Ibs were ordered for delivery from 2001, and these will be fitted with the single seater’s Sextant INS-RLG system with embedded GPS, and may be intended to have an operational role as laser designators, using the Israeli Liteining designator pod. Because Litening incorporates a FLIR and CCD camera it confers improved night capability (which will be further enhanced by the additional of NVGs), and has a limited reconnaissance application. A further order for 20 more single-seat Jaguar Iss has since been placed and these additional aircraft are expected to form a sixth front-line Jaguar squadron, perhaps with a ‘target-marking’ and designation role.

Upgrade program

India’s Jaguars are to receive an ambitious upgrade to allow them to remain viable until 2020 or 2032, with new avionics and displays, a new jammer, and other improvements. The anti-shipping Jaguars are to receive a new Israeli Elta radar.

While the Jaguar was selected to replace the longer-range Canberras (and the highly prized, hard-hitting Hunters), shorter range air-to-ground fighter-bombers like the Su-7 and indigenous HAL HF-24 Marut also needed replacing, and the Air Staff drew up a Tactical Air Strike Aircraft (TASA) requirement for such an aircraft. Having just ordered the Anglo-French Jaguar to fulfill the vital DPSA requirement, it was always likely that ‘non-aligned’ India would select a Russian aircraft type to meet the less important TASA requirement, taking advantage of a lower unit price to augment the relatively small number of sophisticated but expensive long-range Jaguars with much larger numbers of shorter range Soviet-designed fighter-bombers. Some expected India to order the swing-wing Su-17, but instead, India turned to Mig to place an order for 95 Mig-23BNs, together with 15 for (or 17?) Mig-23UB two-seat trainers. India’s relationship with the MIG OKB was long-standing and happy, and its experience of the Mig-21 had been generally better than its experience with the Su-7.

Russian built (but HAL assembled) Mig-23BNs equipped four former SU-7 and HF-24 squadrons from 1981, while India selected the Mig-27 for license production, to re-equip an eventual total of nine fighter-bomber squadrons, including one of the Mig-23BN units. 165 Mig-27s were ordered originally, and a four-phase production program was drawn up. The first batch arrived ‘crated’, followed by aircraft in kit form, before HAL began actually manufacturing the type under license, with an increasing proportion of local content, from 1988.

License-built ‘Floggers’

Indian Mig-27s are known locally as Mig-27Ms, though they are actually something of an hybrid, with some simpler, ‘export standard’ systems and equipment, and are known to the Mig OKB as Mig-27Ls or Mig-27MLs. The total number of Mig-27s delivered is uncertain, because although most sources agree on a total of 165 aircraft, others give totals of 162, 167, or 210 aircraft.

India’s Mig-23BNs, Mig-23MFs and Mig-27s were originally augmented by 15 Mig-23UBs, but these were insufficient to meet the training requirements of the combined fleet and perhaps as many as 26 Mig-23Ums were ordered to remedy this shortfall.

About 60 Mig-23BNs remain in service with three fighter-bomber units, and are expected to remain in service for at least another five years. The Mig-23BN was the first IAF fast-jet ground attack aircraft to be fitted with an automated EW/countermeasures system, and, according to some local analysts, a number of Mig-23BN airframes (probably 16) have been modified for SEAD duties, with a new indigenous DRDO-developed Tranquil RWR, a new jammer and armed with ARMAT, Kh-25P and Kh-59 ARMs. It is not known which of the remaining Mig-23BN squadrons has taken on the Wild Weasel role. Some local reports suggest that a recent defense review will result in the aging fleet of Mig-23BNs being phased out. Presumably the SEAD aircraft would be retained, or replaced by the new batch of two-seat Jaguars or similarly equipped Mig-27Ls.

Some sources suggest that as many as 195 Mig-27Ms are in service, though this seems high. The type equips seven and a half squadrons, however, making it numerically the most important offensive aircraft in the inventory. One of these Mig-27 squadrons is reportedly being assigned to the maritime strike/attack role to cover the east coast, providing tactical air support to the navy in the same way in which the Jaguars of No.6 Squadron cover India’s west coast. Following combat experience in the Kargil operation, the IAF launched a limited upgrade of the Mig-27s EW and ECM systems, and Station Engineering Wings were quickly told to upgrade the aircraft’s chaff/flare dispensers.

The IAF plans to keep the Mig-27 in service until around 2020, and although the IAF’s Mig-27 airframes are relatively young, (the oldest being 18 years old and the youngest only six) and although the aircraft still enjoys excellent performance characteristics, its equipment and avionics were developed in the 1970s, and many of these systems are now obsolete. The aircraft is thus ideally suited to a more extensive and ambitious upgrade, which could produce an extremely effective strike/attack aircraft more cheaply than procuring a new build replacement for the Mig-27.

The Mig OKB energetically marketed its Mig-27-98 upgrade configuration to the IAF, offering an inflight-refueling probe, ‘stealth coatings’, a new digital databus, a new MVK digital computer and a redesigned cockpit with MFD LCD displays, HOTAS controls and IN/GPS navigation system. Provision was also made for the installation of Western avionics systems, including state of the art Israeli RWRs.

Local upgrade for the Mig-27

Surprisingly, India rejected the Russian proposal, preferring to opt for a local upgrade. India will therefore undertake much more of the Mig-27 upgrade in-country, with HAL’s Naski Division playing a dominant role and acting as the prime contractor. The Nasik Division’s design department has been transformed into a fully-fledged Design Bureau, and is now known as the Aircraft Upgrade Research & Design Center (AURDC). As well as leading the Mig-27 upgrade, the AURDC is expected to play a major role in India’s planned Jaguar and Canberra upgrades. Work has already started on some of the structural modifications required as part of the planned upgrade and two prototype conversions are expected to fly within two years of contract approval, which was received in 2001.

Some confusion continues to surround the Mig-27 upgrade, with doubt as to whether it includes the entire active fleet, or only 40 aircraft. These may even be two separate programs: one covering the 40 aircraft which will replace the soon-to-retire Mig-23BNs, and another covering the entire Mig-27 fleet. There may be a single upgrade configuration, to be applied to two consecutive groups of aircraft, or one upgrade may be more ‘far reaching’, with speculation that the first phase of 40 aircraft will be modified to an advanced SEAD configuration, while the remainder will not have the same level of SEAD capability.

The main fleet upgrade is expected to feature a redesigned modern glass cockpit to reduce workload, a fixed inflight-refueling probe to extend range and endurance, and a sophisticated new EW suite to enhance survivability in a hostile electronic environment. The aircraft’s accuracy will be enhanced through the provision of more accurate navigation and mission planning systems, including IN/GPS and an Elbit digital moving map.

Stand-off capability will be enhanced by integrating new and more modern PGMs, and by providing a self-designation capability using the Litening laser designator pod, so that the Mig-27 will not simply be a ‘bomb truck’ hauling PGMs which will be guided by other platforms. Some of the upgraded Mig-27s may also carry a Russian Komar pod-mounted radar. Komar is a lightweight version of the multi-mode Super Kopyo now being installed in upgraded Mig-21s, and would enhance the Mig-27 to use BVR AAMs like the R-27 and R-77, allowing the aircraft to take on a limited BVR air defense role. This may be useful, since it is already expected that the Mig-2 will have to assume an air defense commitment mantle in the east, when Eastern Air Command’s three Mig-21FLs squadrons are withdrawn, in the absence of any other permanently based air defense units in the region.

Reconnaissance is also expected to assume an increased importance for the Mig-27 squadrons, and W. Vinten Ltd (now Thales) Vicon Series 18 Type 601 GP(1) reconnaissance pods (already in service on RAF and IAF Jaguars) will be integrated on the Mig-27. The upgraded aircraft, which may be designated Mig-27ML, will keep the Mig-27 force viable for some years, and will allow the Mig-27 squadrons to embrace new roles.

Fighter-bomber ‘Fishbeds’

Jaguar, Mig-23BN and Mig-27 fighter-bombers are augmented by a dwindling number of Mig-21s. The Mig-21bis (in both upgraded and pre-upgrade forms) has a limited air-to-ground capability, though it is principally used in the air defense role. The older Mig-21M, by contrast, is regarded by the IAF as a fighter-bomber, and some 63 of these aircraft remain active, with three squadrons. About 12 more Mig-21Ms serve as ECM aircraft with the No.35 Squadron.

As older aircraft are retired, the Indian Air Force is likely to shrink slightly in size. The vastly increased cost of new generation combat aircraft makes it impossible to replace aircraft like the Mig-21 on a one-for-one basis, and in order to pay for its new generation of combat aircraft, the IAF will have to accept a reduction in force levels. If present procurement and modernization programs continue as planned, the number of fast-jet fighter squadrons could decline from the current peak of 39 to only 32 (or perhaps even 25) by 2005. The Mig-21FL, Mig-21M and Mig-23ML are already on the verge of retirement (accounting for seven units), and may be followed by the Mig-23BN (three more squadrons). Should the Mig-21bis UPG program remain set at only 125 aircraft, that fleet will reduce from 10 to only six squadrons, giving a further reduction in front-line strength.

With such a reduction in aircraft numbers, the IAF is making every effort to wring more from its reducing asset base, and this has driven the ongoing program of modernization and upgrade of existing aircraft types, in order to enhance their verstatility and ‘productivity’, to improve survivability, and enhance lethality. The IAF has also embraced multi-role aircraft and units, for the same reasons.

The retirement of elederly aircraft types may reduce the IAF’s infrastructure costs, although the IAF’s desire to reduce the number of combat aircraft types in IAF service is unlikely to produce any significant results for some time. The retirement of Mig-21FL, Mig-21M and Mig-23ML, for example, will only reduce the number of fast-jet types in service from 10 to seven. The Mig-21’s proposed replacement – the indigenous LCA – is now not expected to begin entering service until 2010, IOC having previously slipped from 2005 to 2008.

Reconnaissance

In addition to a relatively small force of dedicated reconnaissance aircraft, the IAF operates large numbers of dual-role tactical reconnaissance fighter-bombers. In the strategic reconnaissance role, the IAF operates a single squadron with the survivors of six Mig-25RBs and two Mig-25Rus delivered in 1981, and another squadron with about 12 Canberras (of various marks), which are currently being upgraded by HAL at a new maintenance, upgrade and overhaul facility established at the Canberra’s base at Agra. Dedicated PR.Mk 57 and PR.Mk67 reconnaissance aircraft (export versions of the PR.Mk 7) are augmented by converted bombers with newly-installed bomb-bay camera packs. These aircraft are expected to serve until 2010 and are augmented by a few Gulfstream III SRA-1s, which are believed to be fitted with oblique cameas, designed to loo deep into enemy territory at stand-off ranges. In the longer term, the Canberras and Gulfstreams are likely to give way to satellites and high altitude unmanned aerial vehicles, the first of which have now been deployed, though the indigeneous DROD Nishant UAV reportedly suffers major problems, and has been unable to attain operational status. In particular, it has been alleged that the Indian drone cannot climb above 10,000 ft.

Some reports suggest that the Mig-25RBs may give way to four Myasishcev M-55 high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft, and that India may acquire Elta EL/M-2060P synthetic aperture radars for these aircraft, with appropriate datalinks and ground imagery exploitation systems to allow real-time data collection and interpretation.

In the tactical reconnaissance role, the 12 Mig-21Ms and Mig-23BNs which previously formed the backbone of the force have largely given way to longer range Jaguars and Mig-27s. The Ambala Wing Jaguars, in particular, use Bae-supplied recce pods, and more recently supplied Vinten Vicon pods.

While India’s photographic reconnaissance assets are operated directly by the IAF, Elint and survey assets (probably including three Antonov An-32, two IL-76, two Learjet 29, five HAL HS.748 and seven IAI Astra SPX aircraft) are operated under the auspices of the Aviation Research Center (ARC) at Palam. Two Boeing 707s, and two Boeing 737s, are believed to operate as command posts, while two HAL HS.748ss are used for AEW trials work.

AEW

India actually used Mig-21 fighters as airborne radar pickets during the 1971 war, but was unable to get funding for a dedicated AEW aircraft until much more recently. The Aviation Research Center conducted trials with a number of HAL HS.748s, one of which was lost in a fatal accident, with most of the R&D team, before it became clear that producing an indigenous AEW aircraft from scratch was likely to be an over ambitious project. The Soviet Beriev A-50 ‘Mainstay’ was evaluated by the IAF in 1998 but was rejected as being incompatible with the existing air defense network, which relied heavily on Western systems.

The lack of an AWACS platform was noted during the Kargil war in 1999, and the IAF resumed its search for a suitable platform with renewed enthusiasm. A pair of Beriev A-50Us with the new Shmel-2 radar was leased from the Russian Air Force during May 2000 to help the IAF evaluate the AEW concept, although the Air Force remained reluctant to purchase the A-50 ‘as is’ because it remained fundamentally incompatible with the Indian ADGES, and required too much reliance on ground stations for data processing.

The status of India’s order for the A-50 remains unclear, though it has been suggested that three aircraft have been ordered, and that these will be A-50ehIs, produced through the conversion of new-build PS-90-A engined IL-76-TD transports. These will be based on the cancelled A-50I development for China, with Israel’s Phalcon AEW radar system. This will use three linked L-band active phased array antennas in a non-rotating fairing above the fuselage. This may be a fixed version of the A-50s normal, flight-cleared and disc-like rotodome, or could be replaced by a new triangular antenna fairing.

Tankers

With no inflight-refueling tankers, the IAF actually removed the inflight-refueling probes from most of the Jaguars and Mirage 2000s which were delivered with them fitted, and omitted them from HAL-built aircraft. The prevailing view was that, in the event of a war with Pakistan, Indian attack aircraft could reach their targets without recourse to inflight refueling, while no-one envisaged anymore than tactical, border attacks against China. With the introduction of nuclear weapons (and a long range strike role) and the adoption of loitering SEAD tactics, a need for inflight refueling began to become apparent. The first inflight refueling trials were conducted between IAF Jaguars and a loaned RAF VC10 tanker in 1996, and these trials proved the usefulness of the technique.

In the interim, the IAF acquired UPAZ buddy refueling pods for its Su-30s, Mirages and Jaguars (all of which had their probes reinstalled), and placed orders for a number of IL-78 ‘Midas’ tankers (probably four surplus Russian aircraft), with an eventual requirement for eight of these tankers. The Mig-21 and Mig-27 fleets are being equipped with inflight refueling capability as part of their ongoing upgrades.

Rotary-Wing

India was quick to exploit the military potential of the helicopter, and the IAF’s helicopter force has undergone rapid expansion, despite the loss of most of its HAL Chetaks and Cheetahs (HAL-built Aloutette IIIs and Lamas) to the newly formed Army Aviation Corps on 1 November 1986. This left only three squadrons of about 40 Chetaks and Cheetahs under Air Force control with armed Chetaks operating in the anti-tank role, and unarmed versions performing casevac and liason flying and with lighter Cheetahs mainly serving in the FAC role. The AOP role is now the province of the Army’s 170 Chetak and Cheetha helicopters. These two types will eventually be replaced by the HAL Dhruv (Advanced Light Helicopter).

The formation of the Army Aviation Corps has, if anything, intensified a debate as to the appropriate command and control arrangements of the medium, heavy and attack helicopters which now come under Air Force command. The Army argues that, as the main ‘customer’ for these helicopters, it should ‘own them’ to be integrated with transport and even offensive support aviation, and to its engineering and maintenance expertise.

The Mil Mi-8 HIP remains numerically dominant, with about 100 aircraft in 10 squadrons though the more modern, more powerful Mi-17 is rapidly ‘catching up’ with 80 aircraft in eight squadrons, and with 40 Mi-17Bs already on order. The Mi-8 and Mi-17 operate in the commando assault, support and utility helicopter, SAR and VIP transport roles, and are highly prized for their ruggedness and performance, having proved equally adept when operating from remote mountain helipads or restricted jungle clearings. The types can be armed to augment India’s dedicated attack helicopters, and there are reports that some Mi-17s are to be upgraded with FLIR and other equipment to enhance their night capability.

With its superb hot and high performance, the Mi-17 has often been India’s preferred attack helicopter in recent operations. Some IAF Mi-8 and Mi-17 aircraft are based in India, and in the island territories, and with the Indian permanent station in Antarctica.

The pride of the IAF’s helicopter force is the Mi-26, 10 of which have been operated by No.126 HU on special duties for many years. The Mi-26 is expensive to operate, but enjoys capabilities unmatched by any other type, and has achieved outstanding results in the mountains of northern India.

Arguably, the most potent of the IAF’s helicopters is the Mi-25 HIND – the export derivative of the Mi-24D HIND D, No.125 helicopter unit was formed in May 1984 with Mi-25s, and used these in Sri Lanka. The improved Mi-35 HIND E was received from April 1990, reequipping No.104 HU and, according to some sources, 116 HU as well. Recently, the IAF has commissioned an avionics and defensive aids suite upgrade worth $25 million for 20 Mi-35s and six Mi-25s helicopter gunships from IAI/Tamam. This Mission 24 upgrade will include a new stabilized FLIR and LLTV, a glass cockpit, helmet mounted sights, and new navigation and ECM systems. These aircraft will also be compatible with the Rafael Spike ATGM. All surviving HINDS and Mi-17s are expected to receive new chaff/flare countermeasures systems and missile approach warning systems from Elisra.

Transport Aviation

Between them, the IAF’s transport and helicopter elements account for more than half of the IAF’s annual total flying hours. This is perhaps unsurprising, since India spreads over a huge area, and encompasses some of the world’s most difficult and impassable terrain, from dense jungle to barren deserts, and from frozen high mountains to baking plains. The IAF also has to support offshore oil rigs and a number of overseas territories, including the Laccadives and the Andaman and Nicobar islands, and India’s Antarctic presence.

Air transport is the only practical way of deploying supporting forces over these distances and across these types of terrain, and this becomes even more true when the armed forces are in action. During the Kargil operation, for example, transport aircraft and helicopters had to operate from some of the world’s highest and least well prepared airstrips, and transport pilots became the unsung heroes of the war, flying day in and day out to support and supply the Army, maintaining an uninterrupted air bridge to the world’s highest battlefield.

India has the largest air transport force in Asia, and is capable of airlifting the equivalent of a brigade plus its equipment in a single operation.

At much the same time as it drew up the DPSA and TASA requirements which resulted int the Jaguar and Mig-23BN, the IAF also formulated requirements for a pair of new transport aircraft. The METTAC (Medium Tactical Transport Aircraft) requirement was intended to find a replacement for the IAF’s aging C-47 Dakotas and C-119 Flying Boxcars, and resulted in the procurement of 123 An-32s, all of which were built in the USSR, despite early intentions to build 45 in India. The An-32 was a dedicated high-altitude derivative of the An-26, and proved ideally suited to IAF use. The An-32 forms the backbone of the IAF’s transport force, and today about 80 aircraft equip four operational squadrons. The An-32 has an unusual ability to be fitted with external bomb racks, and aircrew practice a medium-altitude level-bombing role, though this is not usually openly acknowledged by the IAF.

Serviceability of the An-32 was hit particularly hard by the disruption of spares supplies when the former USSR split apart. The IAF successfully fitted several An-32s with engines taken from redundant An-12s, and placed other An-32s into storage, forcing the disbandment of two of the IAF’s original six operational An-32 squadrons. The An-32s will have to be replaced fairly soon, since their airframe life is finite, and is being consumed rapidly.

Augmenting the An-32 are some 32 HAL HS.748 military freighters in one and a half squadrons. HAL built 89 748s (still colloquially known as AVROs), 76 of them for the IAF, the last 28 fitted with wide freight doors. A total of 50 748s is being fitted with upgraded avionics for continued service with India’s armed forces, although the airframes are now elderly. These aircraft are also augmented by about 40 HAL-built Do 228 light transports in two squadrons. The latter aircraft are relatively new, however, and the type is still in production by HAL, so the retirement remains some way off.

Heavy Transport

The HETAC (Heavy Transport Aircraft) requirement was drawn up when fatigue cracks forced the premature retirement of the bulk of the Antonov An-12 fleet from 1981. Some 24 IL-76MDs were procured originally, and 28 of these versatile heavy lifters now equip two squadrons. Despites its size and payload, the IL-76 has good ‘hot and high’ performance, and regularly operated from airfields in Ladakh at over 10,000 feet in elevation. Plans to add to the IAF’s IL-76 flight remain active (quite apart from the IL-76 based A-50 Mainstay AEW aircraft and IL-78 Midas tanker) and an upgrade is looking increasing likely. Some reports suggest that the IAF is seriously considering re-engining the remaining aircraft with Western powerplants.

In addition to these more tactical transport aircraft, the IAF operates a sizeable VIP transport fleet, including a pair of Boeing 737-200s, some seven HAL HS.748s, and eight Mi-8 and six SA-365N Dauphin helicopters.

Training

With some 76 squadrons (including 40 frontline fast-jet units) and 835 combat aircraft (plus 154 combat capable trainers, or combat aircraft serving with training units) as well as 60 armed helicopters and more than 230 transport aircraft, the IAF’s requirement for pilots and aircrew is substantial. The Indian Air Force’s 130,000 total manpower strength included 2,847 aircrew during March 1999, a figure which represented a shortfall of 500 pilots. That this shortfall is so low is perhaps remarkable, since the training system has had to deal with major problems, and it has also sometimes been quite fortuitous.

During the 1980s and early 1990s aircrew shortages were partly camouflaged by poor serviceability and funding shortfalls, which saw average flying hours per pilot tumble from 200 average flying hours in 1988 to only 120 hours in 1992-1993. Had output from the flying training schools been higher, flying hours would have had to have been shared between a larger number of pilots.

As serviceability rates improved again in the mid-1990s, the pilot shortage again became more apparent. This was not merely a function of increased flying hours and increased tasking, however. During the 1990s, India experienced the highest levels of economic growth it has enjoyed since independence and there was an explosion in private sector salaries, which saw many aircrew being lured away to the airlines, or to other civilian careers. One response was to recruit women into the flying and technical branches of the Air Force, though recruitment of ab initio pilot trainees can never be a satisfactory answer to the problems of retaining fully trained, combat-capable personnel.

Flying training in the Indian Air Force will still shows clear signs of RAF influence, following a similar pattern and structure. Since January 1988, cadet pilots began their elementary flying training at the Basic Flying Training School at Allahabad, or at the Air Force Academy at Dundigal, flying the piston-engined HAL HPT-32 Deepak on a 40-hour course.

All then progress to a 90-hour Basic Flying Training phase on the HAL HJT-16 Kiran Mk.1 and Mk1A with the Air Force Academy at Bidar or Dundigal, after which pilots may be streamed for multi-engined or rotary-wing training, going to the transport training unit at Yelahanka for a 150-hour course on the Do-228 and An-32 or to the Helicopter Training School at Hakimpet for a 150-hour course on the Chetak. For fast-jet pilots, however, tactical and basic weapons training is then undertaken during a further 90-hour course, some pilots moving to the Kiran MkII at the Air Force Academy at Hakimpet, where other pilots receive a similar course of instruction on the PZL Iskra.

In days gone by, pilots would then be commissioned, receive their Wings, and be posted either to the Hunter Operational Flying Training Unit (for those aircrew destined to fly Western aircraft types) or to the Mig Operational Flying Training Unit. The HOFTU closed its doors in 1995 and, since then, all fast-jet pilots have followed the same route through MOFTU, where applied operational and tactical flying training is carried out on the Mig-21FL and Mig-21UM.

When pilots could be streamed to fly either the delightful and rather benevolent Hunter or the hair-raising, high-performance Mig-21, it was possible to avoid sending the less confident students onto the more difficult aircraft, but that is no longer possible, and all potential fast-jet pilots now undergo 125 hours of training (expanded from a mere 75 hours) on the Mig-21FL and Mig-21UM before being assigned to their front-line aircraft type.

The Mig-21 has never been an ideal advanced trainer, and has been responsible for an unacceptably high accident rate during training, and for high costs, poor morale and other problems. The conclusion that there has been an unacceptably high accident rate has been drawn by the IAF’s Air Headquarters in successive reports, and is not ‘mere sensationalism in the Indian media’. Some point out the 1990s have been the safest decade in the IAF’s history and that in 1997-98 the IAF enjoyed its lowest ever accident rate, while also joyfully pointing out that the PAF has a much worse record. This, however, is in spite of the Mig-21, and certainly because of it.

Advanced Jet Trainer

The IAF has a long-standing requirement for a new Advanced Jet Trainer, for which the BAE Systems Hawk was provisionally selected during 1999, though negotiations then stalled over the Hawk’s $21M price tag. Some 66 Hawks were to be acquired for the IAF, with 11 more for the Navy, and this remains the IAF’s preferred option, if agreement can be reached on pricing. Meanwhile, HAL is aiming for a December 2002 first flight for the HJT-36 Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT), of which 200 are required to replace the Kiran and Iskra.

From advanced flying training trainee pilots go to front-line squadrons for conversion training, with one squadron in each ‘fleet’ sometimes operating in the OCU role, in addition to its front-line commitments. Some of these units have simulators, and most have extra two-seat trainer aircraft.

Like the best of the world’s other professional air arms, the IAF provides a degree of ‘post-graduate’ training for its front-line aircrew. The Tactics & Air Combat Development Establishment (TACDE) at Jamnagar, for example, offers courses in fighter, ground-attack and helicopter combat tactics, and also provides Dissimilar Air Combat Training (DACT) facilities. India makes every effort to allow its pilots to practice live firing, and there are a number of dedicated target-towing aircraft, including Canberras at Agra.

Indian Air Force – Bharatiya Vayu Sena: Facing the Future

Tested in war on several occasions, most recently in 1999, the IAF has won itself an enviable reputation, though it still faces a number of problems, with several key programs delayed for technical difficulties, funding problems and delayed decisions. An Air Force which was largely composed of ‘cutting-edge’, ‘state-of-the-art’ aircraft in the early and mid-1980s has become one which relies largely on elderly aircraft types. Now, some older aircraft types will be retired without being directly replaced, forcing the IAF to accept a reduced force structure, and to compensate for this ‘weakening’ it will have to improve capability through the adoption of advanced technologies in avionics, systems and weapons, and through pursuing ambitious upgrade programs on those aircraft that are being retained.

Fortunately, India’s most frequent enemy, Pakistan, has also failed to adequately modernize its air force. Pakistan has been constrained by long-standing US arms embargo, which has forced Pakistan to concentrate on acquiring second-hand Mirages from Australia and France, and newly-built but obsolescent Mig-21 and Mig-19 derivatives from China.

However, no one would pretend that India could or should tailor its armed forces to meet only one threat, or to keep pace with only one potential enemy. India is a major regional power and a leader of the non-aligned world, and has always followed a philosophy of providing its forces with the best possible equipment in order to guarantee decisive and swift victories at minimum cost. Pakistan’s relative weakness (which could be temporary) is no excuse for India to field ‘bargain basement’ air power.

And while Pakistan’s air force has not been greatly modernized, China’s air force remains dominated by old-fashioned Chinese-built fighters and bombers, but has undergone major modernization in certain key areas, including the procurement of Su-27 fighters, Su-30 multi-role strike aircraft, and indigenous Xian JH-7 fighter-bombers.

While the IAF has plentiful combat experience of its own from which to learn, the Air Force has always made great efforts to study and learn from other air campaigns. Operation Desert Storm, the Allied Air Campaign over Irag, for example, was closely studied by the IAF and many lessons from it were incorporated into India’s own operational doctrines and procurement plans. Subsequent Allied operations in the Balkans and the Middle East have been studied with equal interest, as have US operations over Afghanistan.

A formal Air Power Doctrine was published in 1997, recording and disseminating the results of intensive study into the changing nature of air power, and drawing up doctrine that would underpin the IAF’s new-found nuclear role and would be sufficient to deal with the

Jagan
Webmaster BR
Posts: 3035
Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30
Location: Earth @ Google.com
Contact:

Re: Books that cover IAF and its History

Postby Jagan » 09 Oct 2002 12:52

Now you can find some of these only in collections of Air Force establishments..got any more?

http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/IAF/History/Misc/Bibliography.html (Updated page)


Return to “Military History Archive”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests