Indian Air Force under threat from China and Pakistan, says US think tank
"Despite being a world-class combat arm, the IAF's falling end strength and problematic force structure, combined with its troubled acquisition and development programs, threaten India's air superiority over its rapidly modernising rivals, China and Pakistan," said the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
The report, titled "The Manifold Travails of the Indian Air Force" has been written by Ashley Tellis, a top American expert on India and South Asia, whose counsel is sought by governments in both the countries. The report argues that India needs this air dominance for deterrence stability in southern Asia and also for preserving the strategic balance in the Indo-Pacific region.
"Resolving India's airpower crisis, therefore, should be a priority for New Delhi," said the report.
It added that as of early this year, IAF's fighter force is weaker than the numbers suggest, while drawing attention to many of its frontline aircraft are obsolete.
Comparing China and Pakistan’s air forces to that of India, it said that they have about 750 advanced air defense/ multirole fighters as compared to IAF's 450-odd equivalents.
"The IAF's desire for 42 45 squadrons by 2027 some 750 800 aircraft is compelling, if India is to preserve the airpower superiority it has enjoyed in southern Asia since 1971," the report said.
While concluding, Tellis said that IAF's likelihood of reaching its 2027 goal with a high proportion of advanced fighters seems poor.
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