Indian Air Force is one of the most powerful airforces in the world, with the giant fleet of 1720+ aircrafts. Indian Air Force or IAF is growing fast, the growth of IAF is necessary for the safety of the nation because India have 2 war fronts. On the East side of the border, India is facing the mighty Chinese Armed Forces and on the west there is Pakistan, which is not so powerful yet capable to inflict heavy damage to India.
Indian Air Force has participated in 3 wars and defended the national interest even by going out of their cards, they had faced more powerful and advance enemy in history but now the scene has changed a little, Indian Air Force is not the same as it was in the previous wars.
Indian Air Force is a defensive force but there is a little change in the tactic, now they believe in the concept of offence is the best defence because heaven reside under the shade of sword. So here is the list of the swords of IAF in the event of war.
This is how it is proposed Indian Air Force will be in 2025.
Sukhoi 30MKI- No doubt the most capable Fighter jet in the IAF. 4.5th generation fighter, belonging to the ‘Heavy category’ . Based of the Russian Su-30, but customized by India in design and including Indian and Western Avionics and Weapons system. Built by HAL in India. Cons include heavy maintenance , low availability and high radar signature.
Su-30Mki is India’s ace of spade when it comes to air power demonstration, Su-30Mki is one of the most advance flanker in the world, when India bought it was nothing special but India upgraded the flanker and made it world class.
Su-30Mki have Panthar PESA radar which is capable to search area up to 400 Km and scan upto 200 Km, flanker is also called Mini AWEC due to its powerful radar. Su-30Mki has tremendous range of 3000 Km, it has a speed of Mach 2(2100 Km/hr) with climbing rate of 300 m/s.
Su-30Mki has 12 hard points on which it can carry various type of ammunition weigh up to 8 tons including precision guided bombs, Air to Air missiles, Air to Surface missiles and even supersonic cruise missiles. Su-30MKi is one of the finest fighter in the world and can be consider as backbone of the Indian Air Force.
2. 123 HAL Tejas mk1/mk1A –
The third most advanced 4.5th generation jet in the IAF after the Su-30MKI and Rafale and belongs to the ‘Light category’. Has among the most advanced flight design and flight controls in the world. The only aircraft in the IAF with some degree of Stealth. Cons include Less operational range and weapons load due to its small size.
3. 36 Rafales
The Dassault Rafale is a French Twin-Engine,Canard Delta wing,Mulitrole fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation for wide range of short and long-range missions, including ground and sea attacks, reconnaissance, high-accuracy strikes and nuclear strike deterrence.
The Rafale is equipped with an RBE2 passive electronically scanned radar developed by Thales, which has look-down and shoot-down capabilities and it can track up to eight targets simultaneously and provides threat identfications and prioritisation.
Rafale can carry payloads of more than 9t on 14 hardpoints for the air force version, with 13 for the naval version. The range of weapons includes: Mica, Magic, Sidewinder, ASRAAM and AMRAAM air-to-air missiles; Apache, AS30L, ALARM, HARM, Maverick and PGM100 air-to-ground missiles and Exocet / AM39, Penguin 3 and Harpoon anti-ship missiles.
For a strategic mission the Rafale can deliver the MBDA (formerly Aerospatiale) ASMP stand-off nuclear missile.
Mig-29 UPG is currently one of the advance fighters in the world and the best among all the Mig-29’s. IAF has recently upgraded their Mig-29’s in the Mig-29 UPG. Indian Air Force Mig-29 UPG is very similar to the SMT variant but Indian version is unique it has foreign-made avionics suites.
The upgraded Mig’s have Zhuk-M AESA radar, a IFR probe for advancement in dog fights and enhanced RD-33 series 3 turbofan engines.
The Mikoyan MiG-29 is a twin-engine jet fighter aircraft designed in the Soviet Union. Developed by the Mikoyan design bureau as an air superiority fighter during the 1970s, the MiG-29, along with the larger Sukhoi Su-27, was developed to counter new American fighters such as the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle, and the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon.
Will serve till the late 2030s/early 2040s eventually will be replaced by HAL AMCA
5. 50 Mirage2000
India bought 49 Mirage aircrafts, in which 42 were single-seaters and 7 were two-seaters in 1980’s. They were one of the most sophisticated aircraft of that time and Indian Air Force had never tried their hands of Delta-Wing designed aircrafts. When Mirage’s came into service, they changed the perspective of Indian Air Force in the field of multi-role fighters.
Mirage-2000 serving in the Indian Air Force since decades and now they are getting up upgrades from Mirage 2000 to Mirage 2000I in which are fitted with the Thales RDY 2 radar, a helmet-mounted display, new avionics, and the ability to fire new weapons including the MICA missile.The new jets were re-designated Mirage 2000I for the single-seat version and Mirage 2000TI for the twin-seat version.
6. 145 Jaguars –
Mainly ground attack Jet. Used for Deep penetration bombing and Marine time operations. Just upgraded with DARIN III Upgrade which increased its life by 15–20 years. Will be possibly replaced by the later versions of the HAL/Sukhoi FGFA in the early 2030s.
- 80 Mig21 BISON
While 123 of the 200 odd Mig21s have been replaced by the HAL Tejas, 80 odd Mig21s would still remain in service which will be eventually replaced by the HAL Tejas mk2 between 2025–2030.
Thus the IAF should have 770 odd Fighters or around 39 Squadrons as of 2025.
The Future of the IAF should be to reduce the variety of Fighters to improve maintainability and to stop imports and work on the Indian defence industry, if India has to be considered a Superpower by 2040.
This was written by Rohit Banerjee.
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