IAF opens up flying branch to its men in short-service

IAF opens up flying branch to its men in short-service

"In order to increase inductions, IAF has revised the SSC scheme in flying branch and made it applicable to both men and women instead of keeping it exclusive for women only," IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal P V Naik has said in an interview.

The interview will appear in the next issue of Defence Ministry's 'Sainik Samachar' in which Naik also talks about the dwindling strength of the IAF's fighter squadrons, but exudes confidence that the existing fleet along with latest sensors was "fully capable" of meeting all operational tasks.Naik said the IAF had also made changes to the SSC entry scheme for officers to make it more attractive to the youth.

"A number of measures have been proposed, which includes payment for lump sum leave after certain period of service, professional enhancement training leave up to two years in the 13th and 14th year of service, ex-servicemen status after initial term of engagement, and eligibility to Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme after 10 years of service," he said.

SSC officers usually join the force for a five-year service, extended to 14 years if the officers desire so. IAF has about 1,300 pilots, all of whom are permanent officers, except for women pilots. Of the 12,200 sanctioned officer strength, the IAF is short of about 1,500 officers.

On the IAF's squadron strength, Naik said, "The strength of fighter squadrons in the IAF has been reducing over the last few years. Though the numbers may have reduced, the IAF is fully capable of meeting all its operational tasks."

This, he said, was possible due to induction of air dominance Sukhoi fighter jets, major upgrades of existing fleet such as MiG-29s and Mirage-2000s, and induction of force multipliers, sensors and other assets.

Naik pointed out that the force multipliers such as the Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) and air-to-air refuellers added to the potential of the IAF "exponentially."

"The procurement strategy has anticipated the reduction in numerical strength and therefore the inductions have been planned accordingly," he added.Noting that IAF was undergoing "a major transformation", Naik said the Defence Ministry had taken several steps for indigenisation, including incentives to industry for manufacturing components for defence equipment, employing Information Technology solutions and upgrading software.

"Indigenisation has been achieved in many areas like licenced production of Su-30 aircraft by HAL, avionics and other systems for MiG-29s and Jaguar aircraft," he said.

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