New Delhi: At a time when the Indian Air Force remains undecided about a multi-billion dollar plan to purchase 126 new fighter aircraft, the Pakistan Air Force has quietly but determinedly augmented its capabilities to nearly match that of India.
As per a news channel’s report, based on defence intelligence establishment’s assessment of the situation, in the 40 years since the neighbours last went to war, Pakistan Air Force has considerably increased its reach and lethal capabilities, to emerge as a top-of-the-line fighting force.
As per the report, India is rapidly losing the once clear “air superiority” to an extent where the PAF Vs IAF ratio of 1:1.7 is likely to dip to 1:1.2 by the end of 2012.
Describing it as a "historic low", the report further says that the traditional hi-tech advantage is almost equal now with 9.5:11 squadron ratio.
Clearly, with Pakistan acquiring early-warning aircraft, mid-air refuellers and missiles, increasingly there’s very little to choose between the two sides, at least technologically.
Consider this: Pakistan is in the process of inducting four Swedish Saab Erieye and four Chinese Y-8 airborne early-warning aircraft, while India, currently, has only three of such aircraft.
India’s advantage of having mid-air refuellers is also about to be neutralised as Pakistan is inducting four similar aircraft.
And also, Pakistan is acquiring 25 European Unmanned Ariel Vehicles to blunt the India’s UAV capabilities.
A warning has been sounded to the government about the emerging situation, especially as it may lead to a more “assertive” Pakistan Air Force, which was once seen as a defensive force.
India’s problems are not just centred around the MMRCA deal or the purchase of other high-tech equipment, but also owe their antecedent to the delay in the induction of the indigenously built Tejas aircraft and the troubles IAF faces in keeping its ageing Russian origin fleet fighting fit.