Pradesh), Oct 8 (IANS) The Indian Air Force (IAF) plans to bridge its fighter squadron deficit by 2022, Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik said Thursday as the force celebrated 77 years of its existence with an elaborate parade and aerobatics display here.
'I would like to share one thing - we do not have a small air force. We are on the low side of the sine curve and we are only going to go up,' said Naik said on the sidelights of the Air Force Day parade.
The IAF is set to acquire new fighter jets, helicopters, transport aircraft. The IAF is working towards increasing its strength to have a competitive edge in the region, he said.
'The strength (of the fighter squadrons) has to increase. By 2014, it will start increasing. By 2022, we expect to have requisite numbers,' Naik told reporters here.
The current strength of the IAF fighter squadrons is 33.5 well below the sanctioned strength of 39.5. By 2022, the IAF is expected to have 42 squadrons.
He noted that the IAF of the future will increasingly be called upon to secure India's strategic interests from the Straits of Hormuz to the Straits of Malacca and the Central Asian region.
'Over the last year, our operational preparedness has remained at an all-time high. Numerous operational tasks, that stretched our resources, were successfully completed. Today, the prevailing situation is such that we have to maintain a certain level of constant readiness,' the IAF chief said.
The Israeli Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS), acquired to see beyond the enemy lines, was put on display at the Air Force Day parade Thursday. Escorted by two Sukhoi-30 jets, AWACS were received with applause from the spectators.
The event commenced with a hang glider show after which flag bearing sky divers of Akash Ganga team dropped out of an AN-32 transporter.
The parade involved three Mi-17 helicopters, three Mi-25/Mi-35 helicopters, a Dornier aircraft, two Avro and two AN-32 aircraft.
The fighter fly-past was led by three Jaguar combat jets in Vic formation closely followed by three Mig-21 Bison, Mig-29 Baaz, Mirage 2000 Vajra aircraft and a SU-30 MKI aircraft. One Sukhoi aircraft of the formation then carried out a Vertical Charlie manoeuvre.
The grand finale was marked by aerobatics by Sarang Advanced Light Helicopter team followed by synchronized low level manoeuvring by HJT-16 aircraft of the Surya Kiran Aerobatics Team (SKAT).