The Indian Air Force is a lethal arm of the Indian Armed Forces. It showed its brilliance in both the 1971 Indo-Pak war and the Kargil War. Unfortunately, the air force wasn’t brought into the game in the 1962 Sino-Indian war otherwise the result could have been different.

Today, we stand at the brink of another possible conflict with China, if its media is to be believed. On the other border, we have a mindless Pakistan that keeps needling India with its terror-sponsoring policy and risks another sudden conflict. In such a dangerously evolving scenario, the IAF needs to be in best condition to tackle both neighbours. Here are two moves by the Narendra Modi government that will give the IAF superiority against both Pakistan and China –

Upgrade of Sukhoi-30MKI

The government has decided to increase the firepower of its top fighter jet the Sukhoi-30MKI. A 3,000-crore proposal was recently cleared by the Modi government to upgrade the jet.

The aircraft will now be equipped with new reconnaissance pods that will help detect hardened terrorists in remote locations such as mountains and bunkers. They will also be able to identify bunkers built by the enemy in hidden terrain. High value enemy assets and terrorists will now be detected and eliminated.

Had these pods been available during the Kargil war, the IAF would have easily destroyed the Pakistani Army and its terrorists hiding in the cover of bunkers.

Deployment of Apache Helicopters

The one area where India lags behind is attack helicopters. But this deficiency will soon be treated to a great extent as India gets the Apache attack helicopters from the US.

The defence ministry had cleared a $2.2 billion contract with the US in 2015 for 22 Apache helicopters. It has been decided that these helicopters will be deployed at Pathankot airbase in Punjab (to counter Pakistan) as well as Jorhat in Assam (to raise offensive capability against China).

The IAF already employs a component of the Russian-origin Mi-35 attack helicopters at Pathankot airbase, but he Apache helicopters are much superior. The Apache will be the first pure attack helicopter in the Indian forces. The Indian Army is also looking to acquire 11 Apache helicopters.

The Apache attack helicopters are equipped with laser and infrared systems for all weather, day-night operability. It fires the Hellfire air-to-air missiles apart from its arsenal of 70-mm rockets and automatic cannon.It is capable of detecting 256 moving targets with its doughnut-shaped Longbow radar and engaging them simultaneously.

Even without these upgrades and acquisitions, the IAF is seen as greatly superior to the Pakistani Air Force. Also, in case of an air conflict with China over Tibet, the IAF holds the advantage as it operates from bases that are located at sea-level whereas Chinese air bases in Tibet are at a height that reduces the performance of its fighter jets.


Vinayak Jain

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