Indian Air Force set to Lose Fighting Edge Over Pakistan Air Force

With the Indian defence ministry dragging its feet on crucial purchases, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is set to lose its conventional edge over Pakistan for the first time since independence reported Indian Media. The force’s fighter strength is set to hit an all-time low of 31 in the next two years. The largest arms importer in the world with a defence spending of Rs 77,000 crore, India seems to have missed out on buying the much-needed fighter aircraft.

Since 1971, the Indian defence strategy has been based on having a superior air power over Pakistan and China. In the event of a conflict with either of these countries, the IAF will be a critical fighting instrument of first resort.

But according to the recent finding of the Standing Parliamentary Committee on Defence, the fighter assets of the IAF are dwindling fast and the force will not be able to attain its required sanctioned strength of 42 until 2032, thus adversely affecting the “operational capability” of the IAF.

The IAF has 34 fighter squadrons at present and it is likely to reduce further to 31 during the 12th plan (from 2012-2017).“The number of sanctioned strength now is 42 but finally the need will be to have 45 squadrons, which will happen only by the 15th plan (2032),” said the committee’s report tabled in Parliament.

The defence ministry is aware of the alarming situation but the only reaction it could offer was “even if the contracts are signed today, it cannot accelerate the process of aircraft induction.”

As early as 1959, the IAF had projected the requirement of 64 squadrons, including 45 combat aircraft squadrons, to prepare for an eventuality of facing war on two fronts. The debacle in 1962 reaffirmed the requirement. But since then, the snail-paced acquisition has hurt the IAF badly. But the force managed to maintain an edge over the Pakistan Air Force (PAF).

Presently, PAF has around 26 squadrons and IAF needs to have 39.5 squadrons to maintain its edge. The PAF is undergoing a major augmentation of its capacity and in 2006, it ordered 28 F-16CD Block 52 fighters from the US. Of these, 14 have been delivered. It has also placed an order for 36 J-10 combat jets with China.

13 thoughts on “Indian Air Force set to Lose Fighting Edge Over Pakistan Air Force”

  1. The author is not well informed and well known, about the numbers PAF procured so far. Currently PAF inventory of F-16 C/D Block 50/52+ is more than 41 Most Modern fighter air crafts. Details are following: PAF received 18 F-16 C/D Block 50/52+ in 2010 and remaining optional 18 were exercised and deliveries of 18 F-16s with two F-16s were on USA trip to be upgraded there were also delivered with the last F-16 of 18 which were ordered in January 2012. And recently Turkish Aerospace Industries also delivered 3 TAI upgrade F-16’s which are comparable to block 50. So it makes the fleet of 36+2+3=41. And turkey keeps delivering until 42 contracted up gradations are completed by 2013. And PAF has also a Modern, Cost-effective, home-grown solution in shape of JF-17 Thunder block I of which two squadrons are fully operational and third one is being raised, which consist of 100 fighters will be completed by mid of 2012. After it JF-17 Thunder block II which far more advanced than the previous one is in serial production and will be revealed by July 2012 of which 150 fighters will be inducted in PAF fleet. And meanwhile we will be receiving the 36 advanced fourth generation 4.5 J-10P from Chinese friends which are produced with PAF required specifications. And ZDK-03 AWACS air crafts are also acquired by PAF F

    1. Dear Sarfaraz Ahmed Larik

      It is nice to read your comment, but i think it is incomplete due to insufficient availability of space. Can you please share the source where all of us can get complete detail.


      1. Dear, ABDUL SATTAR.
        About what you want to know? Please tell me I can provide source of everything you would like to know. Because It’s my hobby to read defense related articles, stories, news & etc. So I have lots of knowledge regarding these. There are lots of websites through them you can acquire lots of information.

          1. Dear, Nisar as you know that Pakistan is smaller country area wise compared to India. Therefore India needs more air crafts to defend it’s large land, airspace & sea. And Pakistan doesn’t need matching numbers like if India has 34 fighter squadrons then Pakistan also should have 34 squadrons, it’s not necessary…! Pakistan air force will have more squadrons and technology wise superior than Indian by the end of 2013.

    2. As Salam O Elekum!

      I live in USA, but living in USA does not mean that I have no interest in the well being of Pakistan or of its defense.

      You have a very rational and non emotional analysis. Like you I also read lot of defense journals including Janes Defense journal. My understanding is that by 2020 majority of Indian planes will be 5th+ generation type where as Pakistan will have some 5th generation type but most will be of 4th generation type? Do you agree, and if no then please elaborate how we will compete with Indian capability.

  2. Superiority not only in numbers but also in Quality will be the greatest advantage of PAF in future. Pakistan will keep on maintaining fighting edge over Indian air force in future. JF-17 Thunder Block-I 100, JF-17 Thunder Block-II 150, J-10P 36 and more Air Defense systems, Radar, Mid-air re-fullers and lots more will be acquired in near future.

  3. Hi sarfraz, nice to read your comments, you look to be well acquainted, is JF17 really a relible aircraft and how and why should be banking on it against russian sukhoi, or israeli aided indian air crafts, what actually is superiority of JF 17

  4. The only thing that a nation need is the man behind the jet not the jet only, and pakistan is capable than any nation in the world to have it, such as the world record maker M.M.ALAM commonly known as PAF Faclcon but i call him the PAF ABABEEL

  5. U stupid idiiots rather then wasting money on new jets get some eduacation to our kids who are getting worse and worse day by day. First get education and then think of our protection at the moment Indians are not attackiing us untile we attack them.

  6. Oh by the way what are v going to do about these terr”r organisations who are causing havoc in our country thhink of stoppping them rather then matching us with our neighbours. They won’t attack us so we don’t attack them simple as that so stop boasting about new jets O.K.,

  7. Anan Saheb:

    Definitely education is a MUST – No if then else. But existence of a country is more important than education. How can you say India will not attack? Could you say the same if Pakistan would not be a nuclear power? And according to you Pakistan should not have developed Nuclear Arsenal as it was a very, very expensive project, rather educated the youths. And like Iraq which attacked and captured Quwait, India could have done so. If we have a sincere government, and Inshallah we will have one in future, we will not only educate but defend our country with full might.

    I am for education, and if you do not consider it as a boasting, I support 4 children of Swat (I belong to a Mohajir family from Karachi) to provide them education and support them to remain healthy. Those who completed their education support one student for 10 years. One of my daughter (A student I supported) completed her education and is married to a Bar At Law. Another is going to an Engineering College. 3 are at school level. I hope if all of us adopt one school child then there can not be any problem in educating Pakistani children.

    Muhammad Riyaz
    Virginia, USA

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