Your post does not completely reflect the flow of events.
I was serving then and have a fair view of the situation. I was well acquainted with many of the participants who fought. I was myself serving on one of the IN Ships deployed to interdict Pakistani SLOC.
Here is my assessment.
There is a saying that Armies always train to fight like they fought the previous war. It was very true in the Indian context.
In the late 70s, 80s & early 90s IAF practiced 1971 type conflicts. IN Sea Harriers practiced Chittagong type attacks & Falklands type air defence.
We inducted huge numbers of MiG23 & MiG27 ground attack fighters (80+ & 160+ respectively), if memory serves right.
One of the major roles of IAF was supporting IA, and these aircraft were to provide support. Interestingly, aircraft like Toofani, Mystere, Su-7 were historically inducted in huge numbers for same role.
On the contrary the US indoctrinated PAF focused on Air Superiority, and Counter Air. They rentlessly attacked Indian Airfields in Counter Air, engaged in dogfight and rarely offered ground support. They only did ground attack in rare cases when 4 Jat crossed Ichhogil Canal threatening Lahore. They never bothered to support their forces at Longewala.
Aircraft like Canberra & Jaguar that replaced Canberra did interdiction.
The only aircraft that had PGM capability was Mirage 2000 and its horrendously expensive Matra BGL guided by the Atlis pod.
The Jaguars were being modified to carry Litening Pod and bombs with PGM kits, however, the modifications were still on during Kargil.
In the 90s, the IAF MiG23 & MiG27 fleet practiced rocketing & bombing and attacking at low level.
Most rocket attacks & bombing attacks have to be made at within a flight envelope of a limited range of altitude, speed, and dive angles.
Aircraft need to slow down to acquire targets in their conventional gunsights or LDP. After acquiring, they need to track, and thereafter develop a firing solution. Flying fast does not enable sufficient time to acquire, track & develop a firing solution. So fighters need to slow down. Fast jets are typically not maneuverable in these envelopes, and weapons were developed to exploit these vulnerabilities.
This vulnerability is compounded in mountains, where one can overfly a ridge or a valley in milliseconds, and fighters need to fly & orbit even slower.
The most lethal of these weapons in my opinion is the Swedish RBS70. The intelligent Swedes were the first to notice this. And there are Stingers & Mistrals. India too had acquired Igla and used it to down Pakistani helicopters. One incident here http://generalchandrashekhar.blogspot.i ... ir_28.html
While fighting in Afghanistan showed the lethal efficiency of MANPADS against attacking aircraft, for some reason we still believed we would be fighting a conventional war. While some aircraft were provisioned to be fitted with Chaff & Flare dispensers, cartridges were not available in adequate supply.
When the fighting started, both IA & IAF mis-appreciated the air situation.
1. IA wanted helicopter gunships. Mi-25/35 could not fly at those altitudes that IA could not appreciate.
2. A compromise solution of Mi-17 firing rockets was used and quickly stopped since the bulky transports were not nimble enough. One was lost to a Stinger. The helicopters had exhaust diffusers but no flares
3. Simultaneously IA started CAS using MiG23, 27 & 21s with rocket, bomb & gun attacks. This is what these squadrons trained for all their lives. If you watch Vayu Shakti exercises at Pokharan during those years, you’ll find them doing the same.
4. The vaunted gun of the MiG-27, same as the AK-630 used in IN, was expected to work like the A-10. The Soviets believed the MiG-27 was one up on the A-10 because it could also fly supersonic. At high altitudes combined with the rarefied atmosphere, the engine sucked air like a drowning man, and ingested the copious quantities of gas generated by the firing lead to a flameout.
5. After the loss of MiG-21 orbiting the area orbiting low & slow, IAF switched to High Altitude bombing. Target GPS coordinates were calculated before the strike and coupled with jury rigged GPS in the cockpit, the MiGs did high altitude bombing. Use of civilian grade GPS lead to lack of substantial results. Curiously, the US JDAM developed a few years later use the same principle, though in a much refined manner with the GPS seeker mounted on the bomb.
6. Given the lack of result in CAS, IAF started shifting to interdiction. Supply Routes & Dumps were static in nature.
7. Simultaneously the Mirages were used for PGM strikes, that were far & few in between. My understanding is around 10 PGM strikes were made. The Litening Pod acted as a good rangefinder to use with conventional bombing.
8. Jaguar re-engining is a lesson learnt from that conflict, the need for a better performing engine
9. Jaguar & MiG27 electronics upgrade was a lesson learnt from that conflict. The laser range finder already fitted to these aircraft was found to be lacking, and hence the Litening pod.
10. Su-30 too carries a Litening pod even though it has an integral range finder that works A2G.
So it’s not that IAF did not try CAS. They stopped it after the aircraft losses and the relative lack of success.
I know the then young pilot who suggested GPS assisted high altitude bombing, he was a board topper who cleared entrance to IITK, spent a few weeks, but left when he got his call to join the NDA. A tall chap, his height is such that he barely fitted within the upper limit of a human in a MiG cockpit.
Fighters are becoming more & more complex & expensive. Using them to engage enemy sangars equipped with Stingers is uneconomical.
Coming to the point of missiles for CAS, and to stay relevant to the missile thread,
India has mastered missile motors, control systems and has developed good & cheap inertial navigation systems. So while US uses JDAM, we can use cheap INS guided missiles as a non-line of sight weapon to do close support. I understand Prahaar is INS guided. The 150 km range of Prahaar will actually enable launch & command sites be further to the rear of combat zones, and the small size of the missile enables mobility of launcher, communication & command systems. It doesn’t need to be as maneuverable as its AAD cousin and can dispense with complex controls.
Forward Air Controllers or Artillery Observer/Spotter/Director or UAV like Searcher & Nishant can give enemy position of GPS coordinates using their hand held rangefinders or UAV payloads, and these can be near real time fed into the missiles and fired.
Maybe not Prahaar, but a 100+ km NLOS GPS/INS guided cheap missiles can be built using our existing capabilities.
Coming to control of assets,
Assets are acquired to develop or retain capability. Helicopters are needed for close air support to army formations for both offence & defence. To fulfill that capability, helicopter assets are required. Unless IAF hands over responsibility of having that capability to IA helicopters & missiles, then we will not be able to build sufficient organic helicopter capability in IA and Regiment of Artillery.
If the IAF says my MiG-21 can bomb & rocket targets 150 km away, it weakens the Regiment of Artillery case of acquiring Prahaar.
Instead the IAF needs to focus on Air Dominance & Deep Interdiction where its expensive & complex fighters are better utilized.