tsarkar wrote:^^ IAF needs to move out of CAS and get into interdiction. Like they discovered in Kargil, CAS from fast jets requires them to slow down to identify & acquire targets and employ weapons, making them vulnerable to MANPADS. AD systems like RBS70 have been designed to engage aircraft when they slow down to make gun, rocket & bomb runs. Which is why IAF switched to interdiction in Kargil rather than CAS.
IAF would have much preferred to fight the interdiction war. However, it was the IA which required CAS type ops and there was much anger expressed at the lack of IAF focus on CAS! At the time, IA lacked sufficient deep arty assets and own fire support. It had to bunch together its 155mm units to get the firepower it wanted.
The IAF view on Op Safedsagar on what it did versus what it prefers:http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/IAF/Histo ... henag.html
The IAF was thus drawn into this battle fought over some of the highest terrain on earth. Never before has any air force been tasked to achieve such military objectives; not to mince words, therefore, this operation by the IAF is, by professional standards, a trailblazer. The types of targets required to be engaged were not conventional target systems that air forces all over are trained to engage. No mobile forces or armored columns, neither industrial targets, nor power plants or railway yards here. No runways to neutralise, or communication networks to paralyse.
What the IAF believes as versus the fact that they do it because IA needs them to do so:
Firstly, in the area of interdiction of enemy supplies, the successful and incessant attacks on the enemy's logistic machine had, over the last few weeks, culminated in a serious degradation of the enemy's ability to sustain himself in an increasing number of areas. The series of attacks against Pt 4388 in the Dras sector was an excellent example of how lethal air strikes combined with timely reconnaissance detected the enemy plans to shift to alternate supply routes which were once again effectively attacked. In this the IAF succeeded in strangling the enemy supply arteries, amply testified to by enemy radio intercepts. The primacy of interdiction targets as opposed to Battlefield Air Strikes (BAS) targets was clearly brought out, as also the fact that air power is not to be frittered away on insignificant targets like machine gun posts and trenches, but on large targets of consequence (like the supply camp at Muntho Dhalo or the enemy Battalion HQ on top of Tiger Hill). Gone are the days of fighters screaming in at deck level, acting as a piece of extended artillery. The air defence environment of today's battlefield just does not permit such employment of airpower anymore, a significant fact that needs to be understood by soldier and civilian alike.
CAS should be left to missiles like Prahaar & Prithvi, supported by helicopters like Apache & LCH.
CAS requires man in the loop guidance because of the constant danger of closely located friendly troops. Missiles like Prahaar and Prithvi are meant for deep strike, not CAS!
You need the ability to call off or abort attacks at the last moment, thanks to the constant element of human errors eg wrong map details wrong target locations of friendlies etc.
Because of the vulnerability of fast jets in CAS mission, we need more Apache & LCH.
You are mixing up effectiveness with vulnerability. Fast jets are more survivable in CAS because they have the speed and energy to ingress and egress rapidly. Helicopters on the other hand, if detected are far more vulnerable. However the very speed that makes fighters more safe, makes them ineffective against hard to locate targets which require eyeball Mk1, even if it in turn is peering into a sensor and risk friendly targets.
Also, doesn't make sense using a multi million fighter to target sangars, like IAF discovered. An attack helicopter with rockets & missiles or a Prahaar or Prithvi will do the job better & cheaper.
Attack helicopters have weight/altitude restrictions (LCH apart) and Prahaar/Prithvi will simply not get the job done when the area to be covered is huge. No country has ever used BMs like Prithvi for replacing CAS. Interdicting/striking columns/C3I not "dangerously close" to own infantry, yes.
Even at Kargil, point blank bombardment from 155mm guns was not enough to get all the Pakis out, though it was a supporting factor and ultimately it took infantry at the point of the bayonet to get the job done.
So, if CAS has to be reduced, IA has to be built up with own helicopter assets and artillery + organic firepower all the way down to section/unit level. No other way.
IAF opposes IA getting heptrs because it sees that as an erosion of its own asset base, same way it opposed IN getting Connies. Not because it wants to do CAS.
In the US, the USAF similarly took over USArmy's C27J fleet. UK's inter service squabbles over resources are also legendary.