Raise more fighter squadrons, says panel

A file photo of IAF Su-30 MKI.  

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence has expressed concern over the dwindling number of fighter squadrons in the Indian Air Force. The squadron strength has come down to 25 from the sanctioned 42, said a report of the committee tabled in Parliament last week.

India requires at least 45 fighter squadrons to counter a “two-front collusive threat,” but the government has sanctioned only 42. “The revelation is astonishing, and the committee feels that the paradox in the required and sanctioned strength needs to be rectified at the earliest,” the report said.

Till recently, the Air Force maintained it had 32 squadrons. A squadron comprises 18 aircraft.

“Moreover, 14 of these squadrons are equipped with MiG-21s and MiG-27s, which will retire between 2015 and 2024. Thus the strength will be reduced to just 11 squadrons by 2024. Our capability has already come down,” the committee said.

The Air Force has ordered 272 Su-30 MKI aircraft, which will be able to add 13 squadrons only by 2020 and raise the strength to 24 squadrons.

The IAF recently inducted several force multipliers such as airborne early warning systems (AWACS), mid-air re-fuellers and tactical airlift aircraft. But the dwindling fighter strength operationally means that the supremacy that India has enjoyed over its neighbours is fast eroding.

The committee noted with concern that the “laxity” is compromising national security, and asked the government to take concrete steps expeditiously to address this and submit a status report.

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Printable version | May 14, 2021 1:04:39 AM |

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