Surge in mails after Balakot strike, most willing to quit jobs for Air Force stint again

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is lately dealing with a new surge of emotions, from its own retired personnel who wish to fight for the nation.

The IAF mailbox — email and normal mail — is flooded with requests from retired officers and airmen offering their services to the IAF, fearing the country may face some “exigency”.

Sources say retired fighter pilots, helicopter pilots, engineers and airmen (IAF nomenclature for Jawans and JCOs) have sent in mails detailing their expertise along with rank, name and number held during service. All of them have offered to leave their existing jobs and enterprises and work for the Indian Air Force.

The mails have been trickling in since the air strike at Jaish-e-Mohammed’s Balakot terror camp in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on February 26 and subsequent air battle over Nowshera/Rajouri in Jammu and Kashmir on February 27 when Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman ejected in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

While the IAF has not accepted any such request, retired personnel are all in, apparently feeling that the Air Force may need manpower to monitor ground stations, radars, sensors and warplanes would need to be “hot-serviced” for a quick turnaround. All of them are trained men.

Normally, if an exigency arises, the duties would entail ground operations, managing logistics and back-end administration.

Old-timers recollect a similar surge in emotions during the Kargil conflict of 1999.

The IAF, on its part, has war-gamed its manpower needs in case of an emergency and conducted a pan-India exercise “Gagan Shakti-2018” from April 8-22, 2018, to validate it. The exercise was real-time coordination, deployment and employment of air power in a short and intense battle scenario.

During the exercise, more than 11,000 sorties were flown.

Rules for ‘Reserves’

Under the IAF Act, 1950, those who retire from the IAF are deemed to be on ‘reserve’ for a period of two years after retirement

This means, if a war breaks out and the IAF suffers losses, medically-fit ‘reserves’ can be called back to duty

The clause of ‘reserves’ does not apply to higher ranks where officers retire at 60 years of age