IAF faces shortage of 400 pilots

The Indian Air Force is facing shortage of about 400 pilots in variouscategories and plans to fill the vacancies within the next two years,Chief of Air Staff P V Naik said on Tuesday.
"There is shortage of about 300 to 400 pilots. We have upped our intakerate. It will take a year or two to fill up the posts," Air ChiefMarshal Naik said at a joint press conference with his Britishcounterpart Stephen Dalton on the final day of the 15-day India-UKjoint air exercise 'Indradhanush' at at Kalaikunda air base in WestBengal's West Midnapur district.

While Mirage-2000, Sukhoi 30 and MiG-27 from the Indian sideparticipated in the exercise, the Royal Air Force showcased itsEurofighters, Typhoons and airborne warning and control system. An IAFAWACS aircraft also participated in the exercise for the first time.

Pointing out that the Air Force had more than 32 squadrons Naik saidthat there was a need to increase their number. "We also need moresatellites, so that we become a networked air force."

With India planning to acquire 126 Medium-weight multi role combataircraft a cost of $ 12 bn (about Rs 5,300 crore), the air force hassubmitted the test reports of MMRCAs like the F-16, F-18, Typhoon,Gripen and MiG 35 to the government on July 31.

"The MMRCAs will help us tremendously. I have no reservation on any ofthem. Although our present capability is sufficient to complete ourmission of protecting the country from any threat from air or space,"Naik said.

In reply to a question, Naik said he was not aware of the governmentfurther short-listing two out of the six models of MMRCAs it had chosen.

Naik said that the Mach-I version of the indigenous light combataircraft would be ready around the middle of next year and it wouldtake another three years to complete the Mach-II version. The initialLCA squadrons would be located at Surut in south India.

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