With a history of nearly 90 years, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is considered the fourth largest air force in the world
To increase combat power, the IAF has equipped the Su-30MKI fighter with an air-launched version of the Brahmos supersonic cruise missile, capable of hitting all types of targets and surpassing the range of other weapons systems. At the same time, the IAF also upgraded the MiG-29, Mirage-2000, and Jaguar fighters, with the aim of prolonging their service life and performance, including the inclusion of Harpoon Block- II to increase seaborne raid capabilities.
The Indian Air Force operates about 12 Tejas domestic light fighters. Tejas is armed with air-to-air missiles, anti-ship missiles, unguided rockets and conventional bombs. Regarding Airborne Early Warning and Control (AWACS) aircraft, the IAF currently has 3 Phalcon aircraft purchased from Israel and 2 AWACS aircraft based on the IL-76 fuselage.
In addition, to enhance situational awareness, The Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS) has developed an early warning system and air traffic control. This device is integrated on the Brazilian Embraer airframe, helping to detect, identify and classify threats in the alert area and act as a C2 center to support combat.
The IAF has also signed contracts to purchase 19 low level transportable radars (LLTR), four medium-power radars (MPRs) and 30 domestic medium-range ROHINI radars, and nine radar arrays to enhance coverage over mountainous terrain as well as along the border with China and Pakistan. The overarching goal is to ensure that Indian airspace cannot be violated by “hostile” aircraft.
In terms of air transport capacity, the current Indian transport aircraft are becoming obsolete, especially the AN-31 and IL-76 aircraft which are not capable of meeting the logistical requirements. Currently, India is implementing a $600 million joint project with Russia to build a multi-role transport aircraft with a payload of 15-20 tons, capable of carrying all types of cargo including tanks, jeeps and armored personnel carriers. The aircraft has two engines, a cruise speed of 800 km/h, a ceiling of 12,000 meters, advanced avionics and a new generation of glass cockpit. The Indian Air Force is also promoting a program to upgrade 110 AN-32 transport aircraft, aiming to increase the service life to another 15-20 years.
The IAF has purchased 80 Mi-17V helicopters from Russia, mainly to increase the ability to perform missions in the high mountains and support relief operations, to replace the domestic DHRUV multi-purpose light helicopter. Domestically, HAL is planning to cooperate with an international airline to build a 10-ton transport helicopter; self-researched and built a light combat helicopter (LCH) to replace the multi-purpose helicopters DHRUV.
In addition, in the procurement plan of 57 Hawk AJT aircraft of the Indian Ministry of Defense, 40 will be delivered to the Air Force. This aircraft can both be used as a fighter, while ensuring advanced training for pilots. In general, the IAF is trying to overcome the backward state of weapons and combat capabilities in general.