IAF opens up flying branch to men in short-service

To increase pilot strength, the Indian Air Force has revised norms to allow men in Short Service Commission (SSC) to join its flying branch, hitherto a privilege enjoyed only by SSC women officers.

Last Updated: Sep 26, 2010, 10:22 AM IST

New Delhi: To increase pilot strength, the
Indian Air Force has revised norms to allow men in Short
Service Commission (SSC) to join its flying branch, hitherto a
privilege enjoyed only by SSC women officers.

"In order to increase inductions, IAF has revised the SSC
scheme in flying branch and made it applicable to both men and
women instead of keeping it exclusive for women only," IAF
Chief Air Chief Marshal P V Naik has said in an interview.

The interview will appear in the next issue of Defence
Ministry`s `Sainik Samachar` in which Naik also talks about
the dwindling strength of the IAF`s fighter squadrons, but
exudes confidence that the existing fleet along with latest
sensors was "fully capable" of meeting all operational tasks.

Naik said the IAF had also made changes to the SSC entry
scheme for officers to make it more attractive to the youth.

"A number of measures have been proposed, which includes
payment for lump sum leave after certain period of service,
professional enhancement training leave up to two years in the
13th and 14th year of service, ex-servicemen status after
initial term of engagement, and eligibility to Ex-Servicemen
Contributory Health Scheme after 10 years of service," he
said.

SSC officers usually join the force for a five-year
service, extended to 14 years if the officers desire so. IAF
has about 1,300 pilots, all of whom are permanent officers,
except for women pilots. Of the 12,200 sanctioned officer
strength, the IAF is short of about 1,500 officers.

On the IAF`s squadron strength, Naik said, "The strength
of fighter squadrons in the IAF has been reducing over the
last few years. Though the numbers may have reduced, the IAF
is fully capable of meeting all its operational tasks."

This, he said, was possible due to induction of air
dominance Sukhoi fighter jets, major upgrades of existing
fleet such as MiG-29s and Mirage-2000s, and induction of force
multipliers, sensors and other assets.

Naik pointed out that the force multipliers such as the
Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) and
air-to-air refuellers added to the potential of the IAF
"exponentially".

"The procurement strategy has anticipated the reduction
in numerical strength and therefore the inductions have been
planned accordingly," he added.

Noting that IAF was undergoing "a major transformation",
Naik said the Defence Ministry had taken several steps for
indigenisation, including incentives to industry for
manufacturing components for defence equipment, employing
Information Technology solutions and upgrading software.

"Indigenisation has been achieved in many areas like
licensed production of Su-30 aircraft by HAL, avionics and
other systems for MiG-29s and Jaguar aircraft," he said.

PTI