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SOURCE: RAUNAK KUNDE / NEWS BEAT / IDRW.ORG

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is spreading its wings wider, aiming to bolster its capabilities with crucial “force enablers” like Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) and aerial tankers. In a recent interview, Air Chief Marshal VR Choudhary emphasized the importance of these platforms in maintaining and enhancing the IAF’s operational prowess.

“Force enablers like AWACS and Tankers have to be inducted in required numbers so that capabilities are not degraded,” declared Choudhary, echoing the IAF’s commitment to acquiring and nurturing these vital assets. His words resonate with the understanding that AWACS and tanker aircraft provide critical aerial support, extending the reach and effectiveness of frontline fighter jets.

The IAF has already taken proactive steps in bolstering its AWACS fleet. Three Netra Mk1 AEW&CS aircraft have been inducted, providing valuable radar coverage and situational awareness. To further strengthen this vital capability, the IAF has plans to induct six more upgraded Netra Mk1A platforms. These improvements will translate to increased range, detection capabilities, and enhanced data processing, ensuring the IAF maintains complete air dominance.

But the IAF’s ambitions go beyond incremental upgrades. With six Airbus A321 platforms acquired from Air India, the stage is set for the induction of Netra Mk2 AEW&CS aircraft. These larger platforms promise even greater capabilities, allowing the IAF to monitor vast swathes of airspace and coordinate operations with unprecedented efficiency.

Choudhary’s announcement signifies a definitive shift towards a robust AWACS network, one that will provide the IAF with an unparalleled tactical advantage. By keeping adversaries within constant sight, these platforms become game-changers in modern aerial warfare, ensuring the IAF can respond swiftly and effectively to any threat.

Aerial tankers are another crucial force enabler for the IAF, allowing fighter jets to extend their range and endurance during missions. Recognizing this critical need, the IAF has initiated the process of leasing one aerial tanker, providing an immediate boost to operational flexibility.

However, Choudhary’s vision extends beyond a temporary solution. The IAF plans to acquire six dedicated aerial tankers, solidifying its long-term refuelling capabilities. This forward-thinking approach ensures the IAF can undertake deep-penetration missions or prolonged patrols without worrying about fuel limitations.

While fighter jets often steal the spotlight, AWACS and tanker aircraft play an equally critical role in ensuring the IAF’s overall effectiveness. By providing vital information and extending operational reach, these force enablers act as the silent guardians of the skies, paving the way for fighter jets to unleash their full potential.

Air Chief Marshal Choudhary’s focus on bolstering the IAF’s force enablers reflects a deep understanding of modern warfare. By investing in AWACS and tanker capabilities, the IAF is not just bolstering its present-day strength but also preparing for the challenges of the future. As these platforms take flight, they symbolize the IAF’s unwavering commitment to air superiority, ensuring India’s skies remain secure for generations to come.

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