By Staff Correspondent
As the Indian Air Force (IAF) celebrates its 91st anniversary, Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari is spearheading a transformative agenda aimed at modernizing the force and enhancing its capabilities both defensively and offensively. The IAF Chief, in a recent media interaction, shed light on the critical aspects of India’s air defence strategy and the ongoing transformation within the IAF.
Addressing the pressing issue of depleting squadron strength, the Chief of the Air Staff outlines the IAF’s ambitious plans to introduce 83 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Mk1A starting in 2024, with the potential for additional units. The fleet is also set to be bolstered by 114 Multi-Role Fighter Aircraft (MRFA), as well as a significant upgrade program for the existing Su-30 fleet, incorporating indigenous radar, weaponry, and sensor enhancements. These initiatives are part of a broader strategy to not only increase squadron strength but also to ensure that the IAF’s fleet is comprised of a balanced mix of 4.5-generation aircraft.
Chaudhari candidly addresses concerns regarding the narrowing asset base of the IAF, emphasising the organisation’s proactive stance in maximising existing capabilities and mitigating vulnerabilities. The IAF is on a time-bound mission to close existing gaps and is confident in its ability to respond effectively to any national security contingency.
The conversation also touches upon theaterisation, with the Air Chief Marshal highlighting the need for a future-ready integration model that leverages the strengths of all three services without compromising operational flexibility.
Regarding preparing for future challenges, Chaudhari underscores the importance of training and educating military leaders to navigate the complexities of a technology-driven battle space. The IAF is investing in education programs at various levels, with a focus on tech infusion, campaign planning, and understanding geopolitical realities. This is complemented by an emphasis on new domains of warfare, including space and cyber.
Turning to space capabilities, the IAF is in the midst of a transformation into an ‘aerospace force,’ actively developing both offensive and defensive space capabilities. This aligns with the Defence Minister’s vision for the IAF to be fully prepared to address future threats from all domains.
On the topic of ‘Aatmanirbharta in Defence,’ the Air Chief Marshal expresses confidence in the progress of the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) project and the performance of the indigenous LCA Tejas, which is set to serve as a core aircraft for expanding the IAF’s asset base.
Addressing the delay in acquiring 114 combat jets, Chaudhari is optimistic about progress and reiterates the IAF’s commitment to ensuring national security.
Finally, Chaudhari highlights the IAF’s proactive engagement with academia, startups, and industry to drive technological innovation and development. Collaborative projects under various schemes are in place, aimed at incorporating modern defence technologies into the IAF’s inventory and maintaining the force’s combat edge.
As the Indian Air Force enters its 92nd year, the vision set forth by Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari marks a pivotal moment in the force’s ongoing journey towards modernization, strategic readiness, and technological advancement.