IAF needs 39 squadrons for 2 front war scenario, has only 34
The IAF will require 39 combat aircraft units to meet the challenge of fighting a war simultaneously on the Pakistan and China fronts but it has only 34 squadrons, a Parliamentary panel has been informed.
In its report, the Standing Committee on Defence has also come down heavily on the government for allocating only Rs 2,000 crore to the IAF for new modernisation schemes whereas Rs 15,000 crore is required only for the Rafale combat jet deal.
"The Indian Air Force has 34 fighter squadrons against the authorised 42. Thirty-nine squadrons are required at any time to take on challenges of a two-front war scenario," the force informed the Standing Committee on Defence.
The force informed that timely-induction of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) and the Medium-Multirole Combat Aircraft (M-MRCA) is envisaged to sustain the desired operational levels.
The indigenous LCA is delayed by over 20 years and the M-MRCA acquisition process is also getting delayed due to issues which has have come up in Defence Ministry's negotiations with the French Dassault, whose Rafale combat jet has been chosen by India.
The Committee said that with the squadron strength of the IAF depleting, it "fails to understand that with stingy funding of Rs 2,000 crore, how will the force be in a position to acquire M-MRCA and other equipment."
It said that with the air fleet of the force ageing and requiring substitution, "obsolescence will further increase and the gap in existing and sanctioned strength of squadrons will widen further thereby leaving air defence in lurch."
The Committee said the force had projected a requirement of Rs 64,607 crore while it was allocated only Rs 39,208 crore.
On the overall budget allocation of Rs 2.03 lakh crore for the Defence Ministry, the Standing Committee said if it is compared with the total central government expenditure, it "clearly depicts a negative growth of defence expenditure. Even if total defence allocation is compared with the GDP, it shows a downward trend".
On funds available for fresh procurement cases, the Committee said the committed liabilities of the Army for this year were Rs 7,024 crore while only Rs 493.98 crore were available for new schemes.
"The share of navy in the modernisation fund of Rs 73,444 crore is Rs 22295.84 crore while the allocation of new schemes is just for Rs 442 crore," the report said.
The Committee said it was of the view that "allocating very paltry sum to the new schemes will jeopardise the modernisation programmes of the armed forces."
It recommended that more funds should be given to the Services to "bridge the space between required and existing capabilities to make the country a potent power in the region."
Meanwhile, commenting on the supply of defective ammunition supplied to the army, the Committee said it has been informed that 23 items of ammunition are giving trouble due to faulty designs.
"The Committee are given to understand that ammunitions in the gun gets burst while firing. It is a serious issue. We note that despite checking by DG Quality Assurance, this product has reached the users to scare them," it said.
The panel said it is "not able to understand that how the ammunition reached the gunners without assuring the quality."
Source: New Delhi, PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEWS - 29 April 2013
Photo: The Indian Air Force Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) (Photo by weapons.technology.youngester.com)