SOURCE: PRAVIN DHAUSKAR / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
Indigenously developed combat version of advanced jet trainer aircraft “Hawk” which was showcased at recently concluded Aero India 2017 might have been rejected by Indian Air Force but in past IAF has gladly accepted trainer jets to be used in front line roles up against formidable leading fighter jets of their time.
Combat Hawk might not find space in India’s frontline fighter jet fleet for all practical reasons today and also due to evolving threat perception today as described by many Defence Analyst for ultimate rejection of Combat Hawk.
Folland Gnat: Tiny and Nimble British developed Subsonic Gnat trainer went to win India 1971 war with Pakistan against formidable Supersonic fighter jets like Mirage, F-86 and F-104.
1971 War Hero was also dubbed ” Sabre Slayer ” since its most of the kills were against Sabres which were widely regarded as the best dogfighter of its era. Gnat was used as frontline fighter jet only in India and Royal Air Force never used them as Fighter jets even after their heroics in the subcontinent.
IAF had procured this jets from British has Trainer jets and due to its Trainer characteristics allowed new pilots ability to fly this jets with ease. Gnat with basic navigation systems and with its 2 main 30mm Aden single-barrel automatic cannon stood ground against highly advance fighter jets due to Visual stealth and excellent manoeuvrability, which allowed Gnat to fox it faster and heavier targets.
SEPECAT Jaguar: India’s love affair with combat trainer jets again emerged when IAF selected Anglo-French Originally conceived in the 1960s as a jet trainer with a light ground attack capability. India initially had rejected Jaguar due to its limited Combat capabilities
India at that time was negotiating with Swedish Saab for their Viggen fighter jet but U.S. Vetoed since aircraft carried a large number of parts of U.S. origin and could not be sold without specific U.S. clearance. Jaguar was again offered to IAF who had limited options available by then and accepted Jaguars which came with limited Operational capabilities.
IAF and HAL teamed up back in India to fix issues with Jaguar aircraft and also further explore its Ground Strike capabilities. Modifications done on Indian Jaguars were mirrored in all Jaguars used by British and French Airforce along with their export customers.
Trainer Jets cum Fighter aircraft will not see any further roles in Indian Air Force due to evolving Net-centric next generation warfare which world is adopting too and is making efforts in moving in that direction but you never know from where next War Hero arise from.