The Indian Air Force is the air arm of the Indian armed forces. Its complement of personnel and aircraft assets ranks fourth amongst the airforces of the world. Its primary mission is to secure Indian airspace and to conduct aerial warfare during armed conflict. It was officially established on 8 October 1932 as an auxiliary air force of the British Empire. When India became a Republic in 1950, its name was changed from Royal Indian Air Force to Indian Air Force.
Since 1950 the IAF has been involved in four wars with neighboring Pakistan and one with the People’s Republic of China. Other major operations undertaken by the IAF include Operation Vijay, Operation Meghdoot, Operation Cactus and Operation Poomalai. The IAF’s mission expands beyond engagement with hostile forces, with the IAF participating in United Nations peacekeeping missions.
The President of India holds the rank of Supreme Commander of the IAF. IAF has a strength of around 1.4 lakhs. IAF is at par with the best Air Forces of the world in regards to its aircrafts and missiles.
The HAL Tejas is an Indian single-seat, single-jet engine, multirole light fighter designed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy. It came from the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme, which began in the 1980s to replace India’s ageing MiG-21 fighters. In 2003, the LCA was officially named “Tejas”. Tejas has a tail-less compound delta-wing configuration with a single dorsal fin. This provides for high maneuverability. It is the smallest and lightest in its class of contemporary supersonic combat aircraft. The Tejas is the second supersonic fighter developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) after the HAL HF-24 Marut.
The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 is a supersonic jet fighter and interceptor aircraft, designed by the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau in the Soviet Union.
Approximately 60 countries over four continents have flown the MiG-21, and it still serves many nations six decades after its maiden flight. It made aviation records, became the most-produced supersonic jet aircraft in aviation history.
The Mikoyan MiG-27 is a variable-geometry ground-attack aircraft, originally built by the Mikoyan-Gurevich design bureau in the Soviet Union and later license-produced in India by Hindustan Aeronautics as the Bahadur (“Valiant”). It is based on the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23 fighter aircraft, but optimized for air-to-ground attack. Unlike the MiG-23, the MiG-27 did not see widespread use outside Russia. It remains in service with the Indian, Kazakh and Sri Lankan Air Forces in the ground attack role. All Russian and Ukrainian MiG-27s have been retired.
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 U.S. fighters such as the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle, and the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon.
While originally oriented towards combat against any enemy aircraft, many MiG-29s have been furnished as multirole fighters capable of performing a number of different operations, and are commonly outfitted to use a range of air-to-surface armaments and precision munitions. Later models frequently feature improved engines, glass cockpits with HOTAS-compatible flight controls, modern radar and IRST sensors, and considerably increased fuel capacity; some aircraft have also been equipped for aerial refuelling.
- Sukhoi Su-30MKI
The Sukhoi Su-30 is a twin-engine, two-seat supermaneuverable fighter aircraft developed by Russia’s Sukhoi Aviation Corporation. It is a multirole fighter for all-weather, air-to-air and air-to-surface deep interdiction missions.
Su-30 MKI is fitted withNIIP NO11M Bars (Panther) which is a powerful integrated PESAradar. The N011M is a digital multi-mode dual frequency band radar. The N011M can function in air-to-air and air-to-land/sea mode simultaneously while being tied into a high-precision laser-inertial or GPS navigation system. It is equipped with a modern digital weapons control system as well as anti-jamming features. N011M has a 400 km search range and a maximum 200 km tracking range, and 60 km in the rear hemisphere. The radar can track 15 air targets and engage 4 simultaneously including cruise missiles and motionless helicopters. The Su-30MKI can function as a mini-AWACS as a director or command post for other aircraft. The target co-ordinates can be transferred automatically to at least four other aircraft. The radar can detect ground targets such as tanks at 40–50 km. Su-30MKI has electronic counter-measure systems.
- Boeing C-17 Globemaster III
Bolstering the IAF’s capability to swiftly transport combat troops and equipment such as tanks to the front, Defence Minister A K Antony on Sep 02 2013, formally inducted India’s biggest 70-tonne C-17 heavy-lift transport aircraft into service at the Hindon Air Base near New Delhi.
The aircraft procured from the US under a deal expected to be over Rs 20,000 crore was inducted into the newly-formed 81 ‘Skylord’ Squadron. The American built C-17 has the capability to carry around 80 tonnes of load and around 150 fully geared troops. It replaced the Russian Il-76 which could carry loads of up to 40 tonnes.
- C-130J Super Hercules
The Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft. The C-130J is a comprehensive update of the Lockheed C-130 Hercules, with new engines, flight deck, and other systems. The Hercules family has the longest continuous production run of any military aircraft in history. During more than 60 years of service, the family has participated in military, civilian, and humanitarian aid operations. The Hercules has outlived several planned successor designs.
- Antonov An-32
The Antonov An-32 is a twin-engined turboprop military transport aircraft. The launch customer was the Indian Air Force, which ordered the aircraft partly due to good relations between then USSR leader Leonid Brezhnev and then India leader Indira Gandhi. The An-32 is designed to withstand adverse weather conditions. The high placement of the engine nacelles above the wing allowed for larger diameter propellers, which are driven by 5,100 hp rated Ivchenko AI-20 turboprop engines. Estimated price for a modernised An-32 version is 15 million US dollars.
An airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) system is an airborne radar picket system designed to detect aircraft, ships and vehicles at long ranges and perform command and control of the battlespace in an air engagement by directing fighter and attack aircraft strikes. AEW&C units are also used to carry out surveillance, including over ground targets and frequently perform C2BM (command and control, battle management) functions similar to an Air Traffic Controller given military command over other forces. When used at altitude, the radar on the aircraft allows the operators to detect and track targets and distinguish between friendly and hostile aircraft much farther away than a similar ground-based radar. Like a ground-based radar, it can be detected by opposing forces, but because of its mobility, it is much less vulnerable to counter-attack.
EMB-145 was the initial designation for the Embraer ERJ family of regional transport aircraft from 1995 up to 1999. The term is now used as designation for the Embraer defense/military aircraft based on the ERJ-145. The EMB-145 series are equipped with Rolls-Royce AE-3007-A1 turbofan engines.
- Beriev A-50
The Beriev A-50 is a Soviet airborne early warning and control aircraft based on the Ilyushin Il-76 transport. The existence of the A-50 was revealed to the Western Bloc in 1980 by Adolf Tolkachev.
A reconnaissance aircraft is a military aircraft designed or adapted to perform aerial reconnaissance. Their roles include collection of imagery intelligence (such as photography), signals intelligence, and measurement and signature intelligence. In addition to general intelligence gathering, modern technology has also enabled some aircraft and UAVs to carry out real-time surveillance.
- Boeing 707
Boeing 707 is a mid-sized, long-range, narrow-body, four-engine jet airliner built by Boeing Commercial Airplanes from 1958 to 1979. Its name is commonly pronounced as “seven oh seven”. Versions of the aircraft have a capacity from 140 to 219 passengers and a range of 2,500 to 5,750 nautical miles (2,880 to 6,620 mi; 4,630 to 10,650 km).
- Ilyushin II-78
The Ilyushin Il-78 is a soviet air-to-air refuelling tanker aircraft. It is a four-engine tanker principally used for in-flight refuelling. IT has Crew Capacity of Six and weight capacity of 138,000kg. It was designed and developed on the basis of a similar predecessor, the IL-76, and has the Nato reporting name Midas. The maiden flight of IL-78 took place on 26 June 1983 and the aircraft entered into service in 1984. About 53 aircraft are currently operational worldwide. The IL-78 aircraft can refuel a maximum of four planes simultaneously on the ground. It can also be used as a military transport aircraft for air drop and air landing of cargo and crew.
The Aérospatiale SA 315B Lama is a French single-engined helicopter developed to meet hot and high operational requirements of the Indian Armed Forces. It combines the lighter Aérospatiale Alouette II airframe with Alouette III components and powerplant. The Lama possesses exceptional high altitude performance; on 21 June 1972, the type established a helicopter absolute altitude record of 12,442 m (40,814 ft).
The helicopters have been built under licence by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in India, known as the Cheetah; HAL later developed an upgraded variant, powered by the Turbomeca TM 333-2M2 engine, which is known as the Cheetal. An armed version, marketed as the Lancer, was also produced by HAL. It was also built under licence by Helibras in Brazil as the Gavião.
The Aérospatiale Alouette III is a single-engine, light utility helicopter developed by French aircraft company Sud Aviation. During its production life, it proved to be a relatively popular rotorcraft; including multiple licensed manufacturers, in excess of 2,000 units were constructed.
The Alouette III was principally also built under licence by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in India as the HAL Chetak, by Industria Aeronautică Română (IAR) in Romania as the IAR 316 and F+W Emmen (de) in Switzerland.
Chetak is used to perform missions such as aerial observation, photography, air-sea rescue, liaison, transport and training; it could also be armed with anti-tank missiles, anti-shipping torpedoes, and a fixed cannon.
The HAL Dhruv is a utility helicopter developed and manufactured by India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The development of the Dhruv was first announced in November 1984, and it was subsequently designed with assistance from MBB in Germany. The helicopter first flew in 1992; however, its development was prolonged due to multiple factors including the Indian Army’s requirement for design changes, budget restrictions, and sanctions placed on India following the 1998 Pokhran-II nuclear tests. The Dhruv entered service in 2002. It is designed to meet the requirement of both military and civil operators. The helicopter was also sold to Nepal and Israel.
The BrahMos is a medium-range ramjet supersonic cruise missile that can be launched from submarine, ships, aircraft, or land. It is the fastest supersonic cruise missile in the world. It is a joint venture between the Russian Federation’s NPO Mashinostroyeniya and India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) who together have formed BrahMos Aerospace. It is based on the Russian P-800 Oniks cruise missile and other similar sea-skimming Russian cruise missile technology. The name BrahMos is a portmanteau formed from the names of two rivers, the Brahmaputra of India and the Moskva of Russia.
Astra is an all weather beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation, India. It is the first air-to-air missile developed by India. It features mid-course inertial guidance with terminal active radar homing. Astra is designed to be capable of engaging targets at varying range and altitudes allowing for engagement of both short-range targets at a distance of 20 km and long-range targets up to a distance of 80 km. Astra has been integrated with Indian Air Force’s Sukhoi Su-30MKI and will be integrated with Dassault Mirage 2000 and Mikoyan MiG-29 in the future. Limited series production of Astra missiles began in 2017.
A trainer is a class of aircraft designed specifically to facilitate flight training of pilots and aircrews. The use of a dedicated trainer aircraft with additional safety features—such as tandem flight controls, forgiving flight characteristics and a simplified cockpit arrangement—allows pilots-in-training to safely advance their real-time piloting, navigation and warfighting skills without the danger of overextending their abilities alone in a fully featured aircraft.
The two seating configurations for trainer aircraft are: pilot and instructor side by side, or in tandem, usually with the pilot in front and the instructor behind. The side-by-side seating configuration has the advantage that pilot and instructor can see each other’s actions, allowing the pilot to learn from the instructor and the instructor to correct the student pilot. The tandem configuration has the advantage of being closer to the normal working environment that a fast jet pilot is likely to encounter.
- The Dassault Mirage 2000
It is a French multirole, single-engine fourth-generation jet fighter manufactured by Dassault Aviation. It was designed in the late 1970s as a lightweight fighter to replace the Mirage III for the French Air Force. The Mirage 2000 evolved into a multirole aircraft with several variants developed, with sales to a number of nations. Over 600 aircraft were built and it has been in service with nine nations.
- The SEPECAT Jaguar
It is a British-French jet attack aircraft originally used by the British Royal Air Force and the French Air Force in the close air support and nuclear strike role. It is still in service in significantly upgraded form with the Indian Air Force.
Originally conceived in the 1960s as a jet trainer with a light ground attack capability, the requirement for the aircraft soon changed to include supersonic performance, reconnaissance and tactical nuclear strike roles. But India is using it majorily to train pilots.
The BAE Systems Hawk is a British single-engine, jet-powered advanced trainer aircraft. It was first flown at Dunsfold, Surrey, in 1974 as the Hawker Siddeley Hawk, and subsequently produced by its successor companies, British Aerospace and BAE Systems, respectively. It has been used in a training capacity and as a low-cost combat aircraft. The Hawk is still in production in the UK and under licence in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) with over 900 Hawks sold to 18 operators around the world.