The Indian Air Force (IAF) is mulling over increasing its sanctioned strength of combat aircraft from 39.5 squadrons to 42 squadrons, a parliamentary panel report has said. “The IAF vice chief has informed that target has been fixed to reach a level of 42 squadrons,” the report of the Standing Committee on Defence, said.
The Committee had laid its report in the Parliament on Wednesday. The current squadron strength of the force is 33. A squadron comprises around 18 to 20 aircraft.
In view of increasing Chinese military deployment along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the IAF has been strengthening its presence in the northeastern sector and has plans of deploying four squadrons of the air superiority Su-30 MKI fighter aircraft there by 2015.
Under its modernisation plans, air bases on the western front are also being equipped with modern airfield infrastructure and new fighter planes.
The IAF has plans of inducting more than 350 fighter jet aircraft by the end of this decade which includes the 126 multi-role combat planes (M-MRCA), over 160 new Su-30 MKIs and over 140 indigenously-built Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) and the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA).
Over 140 new Su-30s will be inducted along with 126 M-MRCAs, the deal for which is expected to be finalised by the end of September.
The IAF is also phasing out its old Russian-origin fleet of MiG aircraft — the 21, 23 and 27 series. The oldest MiG-21 Type-77 is likely to be decommissioned by the end of next year.