ON THE EVE OF 84th ...





Pandit Nehru had hardly any place for matters military in his Scheme of Things in spite of the fact that he liked to waltz a lot on the Stage of International Politics. In fact the very basics of his NON ALLINGED MOVEMENT should have centered around a strong Indian Armed Forces. He even scoffed at the Forces for asking the Government to have a National Defence Policy. Field Marshal Carriappa , General Rajendra Sinhji, General Srinagesh and General Thimayya were too much of a gentlemen to give it back to him. I am pretty sure Pandit Nehru would not have tried the same with General Nathu Singh Rathore. Those who may be unaware , General Nathu was the second Indian to graduate from Sandhurst after General Rajendra Sinhji . He was offered the C- In-C in 1948 but declined stating that there were two other  officers senior to him….Carriappa and Rajendra Sinhji. Around that time  there was a meeting on Higher Defence Management Set Up chaired by the Prime Minister . Nehru very patronizingly explained to all the Union Ministers , Senior Military Officers and ICS Officers present there  that Indian military hierarchy was  inexperienced with respect to holding  higher ranks and so Higher Management would be beyond them . In his turn Nathu Singh gave a robust presentation and finally added that even though none of the Indian politicians had any experience of Premiership one person did get the appointment . A Pin Drop Silence followed. At the political level after the demise of Sardar Patel and non joining of Union Cabinet by first Raksha Mantri Sardar Baldev Singh in 1952 , there were none in the Union Cabinet to put their foot down in matters military  and forcefully present views contrary to those of  the Prime Minister. With the Chinese too cleverly parroting PANCHSHEEL, Indian Military was doomed. They would have been soon reduced to Ceremonial Guards to visiting Heads of State, our own Rashtrapati and of course for the annual Republic Day Parade. However Chinese acted foolishly and in haste attacked India in 1962…..they could  have  waited  for a wee bit more . In case they had , they would have had a Ceremonial Welcome .


After Indira Gandhi , it seems now we again have a Prime Minister who has grasped the  importance of military and diplomacy working hand in gloves . We need to reorganise our Foreign Ministry and Defence HQ including the Defence Ministry so that they function in an integrated manner with proper cross postings. HQ IDS should have IFS officers at the level of Directors, Joint Secretaries and Additional Secretary and Similarly Videsh Mantralay should have officers at the level of Colonels , Brigadiers and Major Generals. A Lt General as a Special Secretary Military should be there in the Foreign Ministry as advisor military to VIDESH MANTRI. In fact there is a need for the Defence Secretary in the Defence Ministry to be from the IFS instead of being from the IAS.  We also need to be fully organised and prepared for a two front war. For this the first requisite is the creation of the post of a Chief of Defence Staff and making him a permanent non-voting member of the Cabinet Committee on Security by an act of Parliament. Taking military advice from a NSA is a very very dangerous thing…..country had somehow managed to survive a B N Mullick earlier, we cannot afford it again. Along with the CDS we will need five integrated Fronts (NW, SW, SOUTH, CENTRAL and EAST) each under a C-in C. In addition there will be the Strategic, Space& Cyber, Special Forces, A&N and a Logistic Commands directly under the CDS.


  Indian Army is slowly gearing up for a two front war and now putting flesh on the skeleton of a Mountain Strike Corps raised in the East. A must is a raising of an Airborne Division at the earliest without listening to the naysayers who will provide scores of excuses in the guise of Facts and Figures and may be even Strategy and Tactics too. There may be a need of even raising two additional Strike Mountain Divisions in the North instead of a second Mountain Strike Corps. Even the Command  & Control set up will require tightening up by bifurcating present Northern Command into Northern Command and North Western Command . Similarly Eastern Command to be bifurcated into North Eastern Command and East Central Command. The existing Central Command also needs beefing up with a few more independent brigades located at right places. It goes without saying that we must also plan that by 2030 all existing voids in artillery including rocket and missiles, Air Defence, Surveillance & Target Acquisition, Aviation and Armour at Corps, Command and Front HQ ( new creation) Reserves levels are  all filled up.


Till a few years back INS VIKRANT used to be the focal point of every   debate on the term WHITE ELEPHANT. Nowadays with confidence one can talk about the need of at least 06 Aircraft Carriers for the IN….one for each Naval Command including   Andamands , one for the Mauritian Outpost and one for the Cam Rahn Bay Outpost. IN is heading for two full fledged blue water Fleets by 2025 or soon after with the speed permitted by our defence dockyards and soon to join private dockyards. Need will be to add two more fleets by 2040. With four Flag Officers Submarines commanding a Submarine Flotilla each, the total strength of conventional submarines by 2040 should be 48, nuclear powered attack subs 24 and nuclear powered ballistic missiles armed 12. By 2030 aim should be to have 60% of this strength.


Now we come to the IAF which will have to play a major role in a two front war. It will have to defend everything between line joining Daulat Beg Ouldi – Kaho-Vijoynagar on top from North extreme to East extreme and then  down to South  line joining Minicoy -Kanyakumari- Dhanushkodi- Indira Point. In addition IAF must have the capability to defend our interests in Central Asia, South East Asia, towards Middle East, Mauritius, towards Madagascar and down to Maldives. Presently Air Force has more Air than Force…. Can’t help leg pulling of my friend, course mate and NDA Squadron type who will soon be facing all the problems of IAF and resolving them too.  I am sure he will build upon what his predecessors have left and lay down the foundation stones and mechanism to resolve all the new problems in time to come.

First of all, IAF has to concentrate on what are termed as Force Multipliers that is the AWACS, AEWS, Aerial Refuellers and Recce & Surveillance assets. Ideally we should have an squadron of AWACS (6 aircrafts) per Front and one for the Andamands.  By 2030 we need to aim for a minimum of 18 aircrafts in 03 x squadrons. No 50 Squadron already has 03 aircrafts IL76 type with 03 more are in the offing. DRDO has to get cracking on full throttle and ensure indigenous capability and assemble the balance 12 AWACS by 2030 with or without Israeli help. Next version of IL in 50 ton capability must be finalized both for the AWACS and for our transport needs and they should be made in India. On similar lines we must add 12 more Refullers

to the existing 06 aircrafts in No 78 Squadron and thus by 2030 have 03 x squadrons.  As per reports available the first of the three AEWS aircraft Embraer ERJ 145 should be joining the IAF soon. With this demonstrated indigenous capability, we must go full steam to deploy a squadron (9 aircrafts) each for WAC, SWAC and EAC by 2030 Ie a total of 27 aircrafts and for other Air Commands thereafter. Next we come to Recce & Surveillance assets. By 2030 our satellites of various types are likely be deployed so as to cover entire Eurasian land mass unhindered and balance on demand. The void existing on retirement of MIG 25 must be filled by a squadron of latest version of MIG 31.


Second, we discuss the most important ingredient which will provide us the ability to fight a two front war. That is the capability of aerial transportation and aerial delivery of men and material from one Front to the other with the fastest possible speed and shortest possible time. This is going to be crux of a two front war. Apart from air transportation of entire units / Formations, ammunition & equipment and other war like stores too will be need moving around for initial mobilization and thereafter as per war situation. IAF itself will require airlift to move and disperse its own assets, concentrated during peace time, to various designated bases all over the country. Then we need dedicated effort even during peacetime for airborne training of our paratroopers and Special Forces. During war now we are looking at dropping of a full parachute brigade in one go out of an Airborne Division and thereafter sustain it till establishment of land/ sea Link. Apart from this is the existing requirement of air maintainance in Ladhak and Arunachal, disastour management and internal security duties. For all these capabilities we need to have transporters in 80 T+, 50T, 20T, 10T and 3Ton categories. We need 03 ×squadrons (10 aircrafts each) of C17 type out of which we already have a squadron. Orders need to be placed for 20 more, to arrive by 2023.However it must be ensured that full facility to carry out total serviceability and repairs of these aircrafts are built in India.  Next in 50 T we already have a squadron of IL76 (itself requiring replacement say by 2025) , we need a total of 04 squadrons or 48 aircrafts. In case AWACS and Refuellers are also of the same type then we can license produce say a 100 out of the 120 required aircrafts   in India only and import the rest. As replacement of the existing Work Horse the AN 32 and the Avros we need at least 06 Squadrons (12 aircrafts each) in 20 T category and at least 12 Squadrons (12aircrafts each) in 10 T category. C295 is perfect candidate for 10T and unless we are going in for the Indo Russian MTA, for 20 T the perfect candidate is C130 of which we already have 06 aircrafts with 06 more on order. Even the light category cannot be neglected and we require 03 ×squadrons (12 aircrafts each)  of SARAS or Dornier’s next version and additional 06×Flights ( 06 aircrafts) one with each air command and one for Andamands for  Communication and Liaison duties. In addition to the above 1× C130 squadron, 1×C295 squadron and 1×SARAS squadron fully modified will have to be there for exclusive use of the Special Forces. And how can we miss the VIP Squadron at Air HQ level.


Next come the Rotaries. The requirement basis for the helicopters remains the same as applicable to the fixed wing transporters. We again need to have, Heavy, Medium, Utility and Light classes of hepters. Seeing that all types requirements are same as discussed for Transport Aircrafts, there is a need for 06× squadrons of Chinook type @ one for each front and one as Reserve.  27× MI 17 squadrons @ 03 for each Army Command including Andamands and 06 ×Squadron of DHRUVs basically for IAFs own requirements. For Airborne FACs   need will be for 06× Squadrons of Light ones (Kamov226 T). Apart from the VIP helicopter Squadron, one Squadron of MI26 category will also help in meeting unforeseen circumstances. Also in addition, one Squadron each of MI 17, Dhruv and Kamov226 will be required to be modified / fitted exclusively for the Special Forces. Regarding Attack/ Armed Helicopters, IAF requirement will be limited to the role of Airbase Protection Duties. For each of the major Forward Base these should be authorised at the scale of one Flight each(6 ×helicopters)


Our Radar coverage has to be such that there are no gaps left for the enemy intruder from any side

. The tiered system from Satellites , AWACS, AWES, Aerostat Radars, High Powered Radars of  500km range,  Medium Powered Radars of 300 km range, Low Powered radars of 150 km range, Low Level Aerial Target Detection Radars of 100km range like INDRA II down to base defence radars. All these must get networked and fully integrated to enable our IAF Commanders to carry out network centric Operations. Gaps in the mountains, seawards etc all have to be plugged properly.



Finally we come to the main item that is the Fighters. Figures such as authorised 45 Squadrons, down to 34 Squadrons due to retirement of old aircrafts and even alarming figures like down to 24 Squadrons regarding the reducing strength of IAF is mentioned around . Firstly a quick round of our perimeter suggests that just to hold on to both the Fronts and this includes Close Air Support to the Army and now Navy too, we need a minimum of 54 Squadrons. Next to hold on to both the Fronts and at the same time give it back on the West we need at least 63 Squadrons. However to hold both the Fronts and also to give it back on both the Fronts, nice and proper, IAF must have 78 Squadrons. These are to be a mixed bag of 30 Squadrons of LCAs, 24 Squadrons of MCAs and 24 Squadrons HCAs.



Production of Tejas in all its avatars has to be put in top gear, so that by 2020 we have 03 Squadrons and then every year a minimum of two Squadrons. Present lethargy at South Block and HAL has to change.  By 2030, we have to have 23 ×Squadrons of Tejas, 03 of the refurbished MIG 29s and also 04 of the MIG 27s will have to linger on. Exports to Srilanka, Vietnam, Philippines, Peru, Ecuador and few African Countries may offset all the cost of a big production line.  In the HCA category we already have 15 Squadrons of SU30MKIs. This needs to be increased by additional production to 18 Squadrons by 2020 or 2022. By 2025 we should have 03 Squadrons of FGFA from Russia and by 2030, we should have produced another 03 Squadron in India itself bringing the HCAs to total of 24 Squadrons. So no problems in this category this leaves the MCA category, where we will have to count on the 2×Mirage Squadrons and 6×Jaguars Squadrons. To these will be added the 2×Raffel Squadrons. By 2030 we should hope for at least 03×Sqadrons of our own AMCA. However there will still be a deficiency of 11×Squadrons. How do we fill this up …scout around for few additional Squadrons of second hand Mirages, make in India say 9×Squadron of Raffel or go in for a new version of MIG? Or speed up the AMCA in such a way that by 2035 at least we have full 15 ×Squadrons?


Time has also come for the IAF to move from present WING centric organisation, planning, working, tactics etc to GROUP centric one. In fact the No 1 Group should come up in the same place where it had once been…Jodhpur. It will encompass Uttarlai, Jaisalmer, Phalodi and Jodhpur. An Air Vice Marshal commanding a Group will have all the resources for a fully integrated Network Centric air defence capability for the entire area of jurisdiction and will have full strike capabilities too.



Many will laugh at the above article, regarding the cost, regarding our technical and production capability, regarding our decision making etc. Let them. We went nuclear, we sent mission to Chandrma and Mangal ,we are moving ahead in our Thorium based Nuclear Reactors , we have our own Nuclear Submarines ,Ballistic Missiles and now  we have  carried out surgical strike inside Pakistan . We will go ahead with this 2030 Plan also, step by step. I know my friend who will soon have to bear all these headaches cannot do all these things in a short span of 03 years. However he will not sit idle but initiate all the above projects to ensure that these are there by 2030 for the Vayu Sena. He is already directly in charge of looking after all the capabilities buildup of the IAF and visualizing its future technological requirements too. His Late Grandfather would have been really proud of this Tiger…BAGH …SINGH, as we all are.


Parikkar ji, we hope you are listening and hopefully extend all the help to my friend in shaping the IAF for 2030.


Col Awadhesh Kumar, Veteran