Air Chief BS Dhanoa: “There is misconception that Indian Air Force does not need 42 squadrons”

“So 42 squadrons are required to carry full spectrum of war in all contingencies. The keyword is full spectrum of operations. It’s not that you can not fight. Even if you have low number of squadrons you can always do air defence duties. This is what the Vietnamese did against the Americans in the war”: Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa

Shailesh Kumar, National Defence
New Delhi, 27 April 2018

Indian Air Force (IAF) requires full 42 squadrons of fighter jets to carry out full spectrumm of (two front) war. At the present number of squadrons, which is dwindelling very fast, only air defence operations can be carried out. However, it doesn’t mean India can’t fight two front war. Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa said there is a ‘Plan-B’ to fight two front war and that ‘Plan-B’ is classified.

“there is misconception that Indian Air Force does not need 42 squadrons. We have Government sanction, we have policy pages of 42 squadrons with us”, Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa said.

“If you say Su-30 has come and it is as much more effective as Mig-21, why did you need so many? It is very good provided the other side (China/ Pakistan) stays on the first and second generation aircrafts. When they go to 4th generation aircraft then we need 4th generation aircraft to counter attack”. Air chief Dhanoa was speaking at Vivekanand International Foundation on the role of Indian Air Force in the changing security environment.

“You are not fighting against vaccum. You are fighting against somebody. So 42 squadrons are required to carry full spectrum of war in all contingencies. The keyword is full spectrum of operations. It’s not that you can not fight. Even if you have low number of squadrons you can always do air defence duties. This is what the Vietnamese did against the Americans in the war”, ACM Dhanoa explaind.

Dhanoa appreciated Govenment’s move to set up Defence Planning Committee, which can decide on defence requirements and set priority in defence procurement.

“Defence Planning Committee is set in the right direction because after all it has to be based on National Resources. If you spend everything on defence, then rest of the country will leg behind and we will be in a economic position, what our western neighbour is. So what is to get bassed on threat assessment and what is inter state priority? Whether you need one more aircraft carrier, do you need 42 squadrons, do you need mountain strike corps. Okay if you need all three then at what time? What needs to come first, second or third?”

Air Chief also emphasised that in Indian context, UAVs are not the solution for futuristic war untill unless they are stealthy as India operates UAVs in contested air space.  

“There are certain concepts that lot of us cherry picks, reading journals and papers UAV Operations. We think the UAV is the ultimate answer to everything, but the biggest difference is that we are going to operate UAVs in the contested airspace”.

Air chief also priased India’s fifth generation fighter jet program ‘AMCA’ while emphasising the gradual improvement in LCA Tejas from Mk-I to Mk-II and graduating to AMCA, design of which is finalised by Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA). Dhanoa took on so-called Chinese stealth aircraft Chengdu J-21 and Shenyang J-31 terming them not stealthy in real sense because of their basic designs. He was optimistic about India- Russia joint program FGFA.

Watch CAS speak on combat, future combat and force modernisation at url:https://youtu.be/hzNsXPg68EU

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