Considering the evolving threat perception, the Indian Air Force has decided to raise night flying by its combat jets from the current around 30 per cent in all its frontline bases to have a major tactical advantage over its adversaries. IAF officials said the decision to enhance night flying is part of a move to boost overall strike capability and keep the fighter squadrons fully ready for operating in an entire 24 hour cycle.
“The move to increase night flying from 30 per cent was based on a variety of factors including the evolving security scenario in our neighbourhood,” a senior IAF told PTI. He said ratio of night flying is being increased as IAF has now much more powerful and better electronic sensors, radars and air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles and there is no impediment for night operation by the jets.
“The warfare scenario is changing fast. We now are preparing ourselves to operate in an electronic warfare environment and that is why we are making the changes,” said the official. He said almost all IAF bases along the western and northern borders have started increasing the ratio of night flying.
The IAF has drawn up an ambitious plan to enhance its overall combat capability which include significantly ramping up existing infrastructure and procuring over 100 combat jets in the next few years. In September last year, India had signed a Euro 7.87 billion (approx Rs 59,000 crore) deal with the French government for purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets. Eighteen Rafale jets will be deployed in Ambala while an equal number of the new generation jet will be stationed in Hasimara.
Sources said IAF has been pressing the government for placing a follow-up order for 36 additional Rafale jets so that it has at least four squadrons of Rafale aircraft. IAF sources said overall operational capability of all frontline bases including Pathankot, Ambala, Halwara and Hasimara are being strengthened to deal with any possible challenge.