Thursday, 21 April 2011

IAF SWAC to deploy Su-30MKI squadrons, Akash SAM and radars

South West Air command
On his visit to Jodhpur Air Marshal Gogoi informed the media that due to the increased threat perception from Pakistan and China combo, IAF will look to strengthen itself by having a permanent base for Su-30 squadrons at Jodhpur. He is the AOC-in-C of SWAC(South West Air Command)
Air marshal Gogoi was on a three-day visit to the Jodhpur air base, the headquarters of SWAC, his first after assuming command.

Talking about the deployment of the DRDO-developed medium range, surface-to-air, Akash missile, air marshal Gogoi, two squadrons of these missiles were soon be deployed, of which one will be at Pune, which falls under SWAC's command. The other deployment would be at Gwalior.
Besides this, six more squadrons will be deployed in the region to check any threat from China," he added.

A small note about Akash missile The Akash missile system consists of radars, mobile launchers, control canters, battlefield management software, and other support systems (see the picture above). Its radars simultaneously can track 64 objects and guide 12 missiles at most. The Akash missile is 5.78m long and weighs 700kg with a warhead of 60kg. It can destroy targets 25 km away and has a supersonic speed of 600m/s (1.8 mach). It has an 85 per cent kill probability.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) will primarily use the system for attacks from unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAV), aircraft, and missiles. The indigenous Akash is said on the same class as the U.S. Patriot, Israel’s Barak, and U.K.’s SAM missile systems, but its speed and range are actually much less. Compared with Akash’s 25km and 1.8 mach, all these foreign medium range missiles feature a range of 70 to 150 km and a speed of 4 to 5 mach.
The IAF had been ever reluctant to acquire the Akash missile system before. In 2008, several senior officers of the Indian Air Force expressed their un-satisfaction to the Akash system in the Indian Western Air Force Command Meeting. One senior officer suggested the Indian air force not to purchase the Akash, saying the IAF needed more maneuverability and greater range from the missile system. 

After the IAF has been assured that the missile system will be improved batch by batch and will go concord with the operating requirements of the IAF, the Akash finally was allowed to join into the IAF family.
Besides placing the order to the indigenous Akash, the IAF still has not slowed its steps to buy air defensive missiles from abroad. According to Israel media, in Nov. 2009 Israel and India has just signed a 1.1 billion US dollars contract for purchasing Israeli Barak-8 surface-to-air missile systems, which will be handed over to the IAF six to eight years later before 2017.

The air marshal also said the IAF was expecting an increase in the number of fighter squadrons after 2012. The force has been facing shortage of aircraft for a considerable period of time.(Please note how our defense preparedness is suffering)

"The number of aircraft squadrons is going down so some bases do not have the required squadrons. Only after 2012, when we start to increase the number of squadrons, we can expect permanent basing," Gogoi said. He was referring to the absence of permanent basing of aircraft squadrons at many air bases.

He also revealed that SWAC was in the process of strengthening its surveillance capabilities by inducting a few state-of-the-art, medium power radars (MPR). The MPR is an AESA system developed for the IAF, which will be able to detect small targets at ranges in excess of 300 km.

"The SWAC will be the first air command to have this modern radar technology," air marshal Gogoi said. "We have already received it and are in the process of making it functional in Gujarat," he said on the last day of his visit here.

Gogoi further said proposals are on to develop the Deesa airport as a full-fledged air base. "Considering the strategic importance of this base and the development taking place around it, we have mooted a proposal to the defence ministry worth over Rs3,000 crore as first phase to strengthen the infrastructure of this base and we are going to push this proposal during the commanders' conference scheduled shortly," he said. Deesa like Phalodi air base, is close to the Pakistan border.

Air marshal Gogoi was commissioned into the fighter stream of the Indian Air Force in 1973. He has flown over 3000 hours on various aircraft, and is a qualified flying instructor and a fighter combat leader.
Air marshal Gogoi was director general, air operations, at Air HQ prior to his current appointment.
He is a recipient of Ati Vishisht Seva Medal and Vishisht Seva Medal.