Not enough fighters for two-front war: IAF

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New Delhi, March 10 (IANS) The number of fighter aircraft squadrons with the Indian Air Force (IAF) is not enough to fight a war on two fronts, Vice Chief of IAF Air Marshal B.S. Dhanoa said on Thursday.

“Our numbers are not adequate to execute an air campaign in a two-front scenario… Are the numbers adequate? No,” Air Marshal Dhanoa said.

He said the government was seized of the problem, and that was the reason why India went for government-to-government deal for Rafale fighter aircraft “because of the urgency”.

The Air Marshal was addressing a press conference on the upcoming Iron Fist exercise of the IAF.

He said the IAF at present had 33 operational squadrons. When a new squadron of Light Combat Aircraft Tejas would be inducted later this year, the number will rise to 34.

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The sanctioned strength for the IAF at present is 39.5, which is sought to be raised to 42.

He said that more Medium Multirole Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) will be needed, but a decision on it will be taken only after the deal for buying 36 Rafale fighters from France was through.

Air Marshal Dhanoa also said that increasing serviceability of the existing fighters can help.

“If we have 35 squadrons and 90 percent serviceability, it will be as good as having 42 squadrons,” he said.

He refused to reveal the present level of serviceability of aircraft, and said the target for now was to reach 75 percent.

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