IAF chief laments too many different aircraft, but global tender for 114 fighters may bring in even wider variety of aircraft - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Tuesday 12 April 2022

IAF chief laments too many different aircraft, but global tender for 114 fighters may bring in even wider variety of aircraft

Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari explains the IAF’s battle tactics


By Ajai Shukla

Business Standard, 12 April 2022


The Indian Air Force (IAF) boss, Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari pointed out on Tuesday that the IAF currently operates 39 different aircrafts with origins in six different countries.


This makes inventory management a big challenge, said Chaudhari. 


However, the IAF chief glossed over the fact that a current air force tender for 114 fighter aircraft made it likely that the IAF might soon have a seventh fighter type on its inventory.


An IAF tender for 114 “multi-role combat aircraft” (MRCA) is likely to obtain responses from eight fighters: Boeing (F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and F-15EX), Sukhoi (Sukhoi-35), RAC MiG (MiG-35), Eurofighter (Typhoon), Lockheed Martin (F-21), Saab (Gripen E) and Dassault (Rafale).


Of these, only the Rafale is already on the IAF’s inventory of six fighter types: the Sukhoi-30MKI, Dassault-Rafale, MiG-29UPG, Jaguar, Mirage 2000 and Tejas Mark 1. This does not count the MiG-21, which is on its way out.


The IAF chief said that focus was earlier on hardware (combat aircraft), but has now shifted to software, data and artificial intelligence (AI). The key to winning future wars, said Chaudhari, is to make our own networks secure and resilient while interfering with enemy networks.


Delivering a talk on the future of air warfare at a conclave of the All India Management Association (AIMA) in Delhi on Tuesday, Chaudhari said a nation’s entire economic, information and technological capability had to be brought to bear on the adversary. 


“Even before the first bullet is fired, a well-crafted narrative can have a devastating effect on the adversary, and a cyber-attack can cripple their command and control structure,” he said.


Illustrating that US tactical combat theory and practice was finding its way into Indian military thinking, Chaudhri stated that the IAF was trying to shorten its “OODA loop”, to keep the enemy on its back foot.


The “OODA loop” refers to the combat tactics cycle, developed by US Air Force Colonel John Boyd, in which combat units try to speed up the action cycle of “Observe–Orient–Decide–Act”. 


Step One – observe – involves scanning the situation, to build the most accurate and comprehensive picture possible. Step Two – orientation – requires seeing the situation as it really is, free from cognitive biases and shortcuts.


The first two steps provide the groundwork for the third – decide – which might require choosing between multiple options. It is then time for the fourth step – action – the outcome of which tests the decision. The cycle then begins anew.


Chaudhari said the IAF is trying to shorten its OODA loop through investment in technology and training and providing integration across sensors, decision makers and shooters. “We need to be fully networked at all times and we need to use data and AI to keep the OODA loop shortest,” he said.


Drone usage is now a part of IAF doctrine and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are being integrated with manned systems, said Chaudhari. He pointed to the effective use of drones in the most recent wars around the world, including Ukraine’s use of drones against Russia’s forces.


Hypersonic missiles, which have been used in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, are also transforming warfare, said the Air Chief. While the high speed of such missiles make them difficult to intercept, the IAF is developing countermeasures against them.


Chaudhari strongly backed the indigenous production of defence systems, including hypersonic missiles, in which India has made a head start. “It is best to remain indigenous and not collaborate even if it takes time,” he said.


He said the IAF is now collaborating directly with the industry and academia. The IAF organized a competition for development and sourcing of drones and is now working with three suppliers, whose drones were used during the Beating Retreat show.

1 comment:

  1. Isarel is true friend of India. Their technology can help us to fight our enemies.


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