On March 10th , the Hindustan Times reported that the second in command in the Indian Air Force admitted that there is serious shortage of battle ready aircraft in the Indian Air Force and that in their present state they won’t be able to manage “a two front war with China and Pakistan”.
According to the report, it is extremely rare for high level Indian Air Force officials to publically admit a weakness in their military strength. With respect to the two front war with China and Pakistan, the Indian Air Force believes they need 42 fighter aircraft squadrons, the number of which presently is only 33 and further declining.
Presently, the Indian Air Force’s expansion plan is experiencing dual hurdles — difficulty in completing domestic development and production of LCA light fighter aircraft and stalling of purchase of 126 Rafale aircraft from France. Making the situation even worse is the fact that an additional 14 squadrons of old MiG-21 and MiG-27 fighter aircraft will be completely decommissioned from 2024 onwards, by which time the extent of shortfall in the Indian Air Force’s fighter aircraft will be huge. In addition to this, the Su-30MKI series imported from Russia is also experiencing continuous troubles like engine malfunction and a variety of problems relating to reliability.