Stating that the fleet will be much more capable by then, he said, “Our adversaries are also getting technologically superior and more number of aircraft”

The number of fighter squadrons in the Indian Air Force is expected to improve in a decade’s time, says the Deputy Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Sandeep Singh. In his address at a webinar which was jointly organized by Centre for Air Power Studies and Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers, the deputy Chief of IAF said, “The IAF will have around 37-38 fighter squadrons in a decade.” The IAF currently has around 30 squadrons as against the authorized strength of 42 fighter squadrons.

Talking about the 114 fighter aircraft deal which is underway, he said, “The `Make in India’ initiative as mentioned in the recently released Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) 2020 will be taken into consideration.”

Based on the new DAP, which will be applicable soon, to seek higher levels of production technology and use of indigenous systems and materials where possible for the 114 fighter deal, the IAF has already realigned their Statement of Case (SoC). And, as has been reported recently, the IAF is expected to approach the government for accord of the Acceptance of Necessity (AoN). Once the AoN is issued, the formal procurement process would begin. The new DAP 2020 comes into effect from October 1, 2020.

Modernization of Fighter Fleet

According to Air Marshal Sandeep Singh, “The rate at which the drawdown is taking place the Mig-21s will have to go. And the other fighters are getting upgraded which are making them more capable. Assuming there are no delays in the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) variant, by the end of the decade the IAF will hit around 37-38 squadrons.” Also, the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) induction is expected to start by the end of the decade.

Stating that the fleet will be much more capable by then, he said, “Our adversaries are also getting technologically superior and more number of aircraft.”

Leasing of Mid-Air Refueler

Due to the financial crunch, the purchase of mid-air refuelling aircraft has been delayed. Now the IAF is mulling on dry leasing these platforms. “Those companies which have been approved under the DAP 2020, could be aggregators of these platforms which have been allowed under the new procedure,” the deputy chief said.

Though the IAF has six Russian IL-78 tankers, it has been trying to get six more but the deal has been getting delayed repeatedly.


In face of the increasing threat of drones and with various agencies looking for counter-drone systems, according to the top officer of the IAF, “the Anti-drone systems should be under a national policy as it would be required by various agencies.”

The decision to purchase 127 Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), is expected to be taken soon. Since the IAF is the lead service, it has to decide whether it is ‘Buy Indian’ or ‘Buy and Make Indian’ of the procurement procedure.