Indian Air Force finally accepts UAV cadre proposal

Indian Air Force finally accepts UAV cadre proposal

A proposal to establish a separate cadre (from recruitment to operations) for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or remotely piloted vehicles has reached Air Headquarters (AHQ), Indian Air Force (IAF), almost 18 months after it was first suggested . 

A brainchild of the IAF Training Command headquartered in Bangalore, the new set-up aims at trimming of fighter pilots and will have a new training module developed.
Sources in Delhi confirmed that files pertaining to the proposal have reached the AHQ a few months ago. However, no confirmation was available on the status of the same.
The IAF, which already uses UAVs, is in the process of multiplying the forces.

A senior IAF officer said: “It will be similar to fighter pilots, transport pilots and so on, this will be a role-specific cadre, so that the officers are trained for a specific role from the time they are recruited.”Deccan Herald had first reported about the development in February 2012, when the training command was drafting the proposal.

Erstwhile Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the command, Air Marshal Dhiraj Kukreja, had said the new cadre would be part of the existing squadrons.

Flying squadrons have about 12-15 aircraft, depending on capabilities. If the AHQ gives its clearance, the proposal will be sent to ministry for formal approval. Although the IAF is already training its personnel for this specific role as it has UAVs in its fleet, Kukreja had said the force was diverting people who are medically incapable of being fighter pilots for this role.

“But with the kind of advancesthe medical field is making, we will soon see the number of such people reduce. And that is where this proposal comes in handy,” he had said.
While pointing out the importance of the role of the UAVs, as successfully demonstrated by Israel and the US––both have separate cadres–– sources still emphasised on the man behind the mission.

Thereby, recruitment of officers or personnel specifically for this role will prove beneficial in the long run. Given the threat perceptions, the IAF will be forced to increase its dependence on such vehicles and is already discussing options of inducting new Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAVs).

While a full fleet of such vehicles from Israel––the Hunters––is expected to be acquired, the IAF will also have additional combat vehicles in the future.Sources said depending on the nature of the UAV, they could be deployed as independent units out in the front or made to be part of a station or (hand-launched type) be deployed with the infantry.

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