New Delhi: National security is being "compromised" with a "fast-eroding" combat aircraft squadron strength of the Indian Air Force vis-a-vis the neighbouring countries, leading to a "very grim" situation, a parliamentary panel said on Monday.
"With regard to existing squadron strength, it is learnt that we are down to 25 squadrons today even though the authorisation is for 42 combat squadrons. Thus, our capability has already come down," the Standing Committee on Defence said in a report tabled in Parliament.
The 33-member panel, headed by BJP MP B C Khanduri, said, "It was admitted...That our capability (vis-a-vis) our neighbours is fast eroding" and the country's "security requirements are being compromised by ignoring consistently widening gap between sanctioned and existing strength."
IAF now requires at least 45 fighter squadrons to "counter a two-front collusive threat but the government has authorised a strength of 42 squadrons. This revelation is astonishing ..."
Noting that IAF had only 25 active fighter squadrons with 14 of them equipped with MiG-21s and MiG-27s combat planes which would retire between 2015 and 2024, it said the strength would be reduced to just 11 squadrons by 2024. This "widening gap" has occured primarily due to the rate of retirement of the fighter jet aircraft, it said.