A MiG-29 firing Exocet missile during Malabar exercise

Air Marshal Pande highlighted the IAF's strides in achieving self-reliance, completion of the MiG-29 upgrade, and outlined plans for indigenous production Air Marshal Vibhas Pande spoke about the advancements made by the IAF in achieving self-reliance, concluding the MiG-29 upgrade, and laying out strategies for indigenous production

Air Marshal Vibhas Pande, Chief of the Indian Air Force's Maintenance Command, recently emphasised the strides made by the IAF in maintaining and upgrading its fleet through indigenous efforts, achieving self-reliance, or 'Atmanirbharta,' amidst evolving global dynamics.

Indigenous Initiatives And Dependency

The Air Marshal highlighted, “For the Sukhoi 30, our dependency is on HAL. For the MiG-29, we have done a lot of indigenization. The Russia-Ukraine conflict had no impact on the MiG-29 operation. With the support of HAL, we have been able to sustain the fleet very well."

Successful Completion of MiG-29-UPG Program

Despite incomplete Russian support, Pande underlined the successful completion of the MiG-29-UPG or upgrade program. "The upgrade program of the MiG-29 has been completed without complete supply by the Russian side," Pande stated. Addressing the financial gains from indigenous initiatives, Pande mentioned, "We have created 3000 production lines for the supply of LRUs, thus saving 160 crores."

Progress Towards Self-Reliance And Future Goals

The Air Marshal underlined the IAF's achievement of 95-97 percent self-reliance in daily requirements and stressed the need to further focus on indigenization to fulfil the vision of an 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat' outlined by the Prime Minister. He highlighted challenges in developing technology for Automatic Replenishment Spares (ARS) or Line Replaceable Units (LRUs), highlighting the complexity involved in critical calculations for such technology.

Thrust Towards Indigenisation And Collaborative Efforts

"We will have to give a little more thrust to our indigenisation and work harder to achieve our PM’s vision of Aatmanirbhar Bharat. Right now, the plan is to manufacture the spare parts required by us in our country as soon as possible," Pande added, mentioning the renewed ‘impetus’ provided by BRD and HAL during the conflict for the development of necessary new spares. Additionally Pande said this LRUs or ARS are ‘Made in India’ and not ‘Make in India’.

Future Acquisitions And Self-Sufficiency

Discussing future acquisitions, Pande expressed the IAF's requirement for the TEJAS MK-1A variant, scheduled for delivery from 2024. "The Air Force is in continuous dialogue with HAL as we aim for more planes. We strive for expedited production and delivery to enhance our operational capabilities," he stated.

Underlining the journey towards self-sufficiency, Pande emphasised the collaborative indigenisation efforts with MSMEs since the dissolution of the USSR in the 90s. He added, "Today, 97 percent of our Automatic Replacement System's spare parts used daily are 'Made in India.' We no longer rely on any foreign country for these.”