Published On: Wed, Oct 16th, 2019

The Indian Air Force and a Two Front War

The Royal Indian Air Force (RIAF) was a creation of the Raj and saw the light of the day on 8 Oct 1933. Initially the RIAF functioned as an adjunct of the Army and was used in a support role against the Inmperial Army in Burma. After 1947 the Royal prefix was dropped and the IAF was christened.

The Legacy of the RIAF

After 1933, the next important milestone was 1947 when the RIAF was divided in a ratio of 3:2 into the Airforces of India and Pakistan. The IAF did not see much action in the 1947-48 war with Pakistan and was also not used in the Indo-China war in 1962, but it was extensively used in the 1965 war on the Western Front. The 1965 war gave a slight edge to the IAF and the main thrust was to negate the Pakistan designs. Thus the IAF did carry out interdiction and close support operations. The IAF fleet of Hunters, Cabberras and Gnats held the edge in the 65 war.

Come the 1971 war and a significant part was played by the IAF in the conquest of East Pakistan. Over all the performance of the IAF was creditable and Douhet’s theory of a ‘favorable air situation’ was created.

However the 21st century has dawned and the IAF is faced with a dilemma of a two front war with both China and Pakistan. This dilemma is similar to that of the German General staff who mused about a two front war during the two world wars.

Strength wise the IAF is purported to have about 750 first line attack aircraft spread over 45 squadrons. This force level is more than adequate for Pakistan, which will be hard pressed to counter the IAF which certainly has better morale and training facilities. Pakistan has no aircraft to hit distant Indian air bases and at best can only do air defence.

Offensive Capability

The Indian Air Force and a Two Front War

However a war with China has a different connotation. China has a much superior Air force with large numbers based in Tibet. From these bases the Chinese can strike at any place in India with impunity. In contrast India just cannot match the Chinese as their Industrial centres and cities are out of range of the IAF. This is a major handicap and will reduce the IAF to only a tactical use. A deal for the TU-22( back fire) supersonic long range bomber was discussed but pressure from China saw the Russians back out of the deal.

Thus a two front war with just 45 squadrons with no chance of an attack on Chinese Industrial centres or troop concentration could be grossly inadequate. This state of affairs is India’s own undoing as right from Nehru the political leadership as well as the General Staff did not assess the threat from China and how to counter it. India cannot dominate the world stage with a purely defensive Air Force and in the long run this could be dangerous.

About the Author

- I am an internet marketing expert with an experience of 8 years.My hobbies are SEO,Content services and reading ebooks.I am founder of SRJ News,Tech Preview and Daily Posts.

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