Future of the Indian Air Force

by Sachin Kumar on November 12, 2013

Indian Air Force is the 4th largest air force in the world as well as the major Asian power but the number of aircrafts in the IAF is decreasing due to retirement of older aircrafts and several crashes.


To counter this and strengthen its capabilities, the IAF has started to modernize its fleet. IAF is purchasing various aircrafts from other countries. Also, DRDO and HAL are working on indigenous projects to fulfill the needs of IAF.

Apart from that IAF is strengthening its air defence as well. As new aircraft enter service and numbers recover, the IAF plans to have a fleet of 42 squadrons. Following are the future equipments of IAF:

Fighter Aircrafts

  1. HAL Tejas Fighters: A long awaited project under development by HAL. Basically it is a multirole light fighter aircraft.
  2. Dassault Rafale Multirole Fighters: Winner of MMRCA. Total 126 to be purchased with an additional purchase of another 63 Rafale aircrafts.
  3. Sukhoi/HAL FGFA: HAL has undertaken the joint development of the Sukhoi/HAL FGFA (Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft) which is an Indian version of the Sukhoi PAK-FA/T-50). This aircraft is equipped with stealth capabilities and is likely to be inducted in 2018.
  4. 4.    Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA): twin-engine fifth-generation stealth multirole fighter being developed by India.

Trainers Aircrafts

  1. HAL HJT-36 Sitara: It is the subsonic intermediate jet trainer aircraft which will replace the HJT-16 Kiran.
  2. Pilatus PC-7MkII Basic Trainers: It is a low-wing tandem-seat training aircraft capable of all basic training functions including aerobatics, instrument, tactical and night flying. Total 75to be purchased out of which some has been received.
  3. HAL HTT-40: The Hindustan Turbo Trainer-40 aircraft project proposed to replace fthe HPT-32 Deepak as a basic trainer. However, IAF has given preference to Pilatus over this aircraft.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

  1. IAI Harop UCAVs: Israel made UCAV  which have capability to attack targets by self-destructing into them
  2. Stealth Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV): The IAF has submitted a request for information to international suppliers including Israel for a stealth unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV). These will have low radar cross-section, high service ceiling, an expected range of 925km and the capability to carry precision-guided weapons.
  3. DRDO Rustom: The Rustom will supplement the Heron UAVs in service.
  4. AURA (Autonomous Unmanned Research Aircraft) UCAV: AURA is a tactical stealth aircraft built largely with composites, and capable of delivering laser-guided strike weapons. It would be a stealth aircraft with internal weapons and a turbofan engine.

Transport Aircrafts

  1. C-17 Globemaster III Strategic Air-lift Aircraft: These are the heavy lift aircrafts capable of carrying 75 tonnes. Made in USA. Total 10 are ordered out of which 4 aircrafts have been received so far.
  2. Airbus A330 tanker aircraft: It is an aerial refueling tanker aircraft. Total 6 to be purchased.
  3. C-27J Spartan medium military transport: The IAF has issued a Request for Information for 16 C-27J Spartan medium military transport aircrafts to replace the aged fleet of Hawker Siddeley HS 748.
  4. UAC/HAL Il-214 Multirole Transport Aircraft (MTA): with Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC). The MTA is expected to replace the Indian Air Force’s aging fleet of Antonov An-32 transport aircraft.
  5. NAL Saras: It is a Light Transport Aircraft.


  1. Mi-17V-5 Helicopters: It is a medium twin-turbine transport helicopter. Total 139 to be purchased.
  2. AH-64E Apache Longbow Heavy Attack Helicopters: Total 22 to be purchased from USA to strengthen the attack capabilities of IAF combat section.
  3. VVIP AgustaWestland AW101 helicopters: Total 12 were ordered out of which 3 are in service. But due to chopper scam, the other 9 were put on hold.
  4. CH-47F Medium Lift Helicopters: Heavylift helicopters with the primary roles of troop movement, artillery placement and battlefield resupply. Total 15 to be purchased.
  5. HAL Light Combat Helicopter (LCH): Light Attack helicopter being developed by HAL.
  6. HAL Light Observation Helicopter (LOH): Requirement for 384 helicopters is expressed by Army and Air Force.

Air Defence

  1. DRDO AEW&CS: DRDO is also working on Airborne early warning and control system.
  2. 18 Israeli SPYDER Surface to Air Missiles (SAMs): To strengthen air defence India is  looking forward to buy SPYDER SAM’s.
  3. Barak 8 SAM: DRDO has entered in a joint venture with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to develop the Barak 8 SAM
  4. Maitri SAM: The Maitri missile project is a next-generation Quick Reaction Surface-to-Air Missile with a lethal hundred per cent kill probability.
  5. BrahMos cruise missile: DRDO is developing the air-launched version of the BrahMos cruise missile in a joint venture with Russia.
  6. Nirbhay cruise missile: DRDO is also developing Nirbhay cruise missile. The missile will have a range of 1,000 km and will arm three services.

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VINAY November 15, 2013 at 7:20 pm



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