The Maharaja's New AVTAAR: Air-Refuelling Strategy for the Indian Air Force
AIR UNIV MAXWELL AFB AL SCHOOL OF ADVANCED AIR AND SPACE STUDIES
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This thesis begins by outlining India s geo-political situation, and examines the likely role of the Indian Armed Forces in providing national security. More specifically, it highlights the characteristics of responsiveness, reach, and mobility that will empower the Indian Air Force IAF with a key role in mitigating India s security concerns. Flight Refuelling Aircraft FRA will be critical to the success of the IAF in this venture. FRA, however, are expensive and India s defence budget is limited. Moreover, India s pragmatic approach to foreign policy is unique and ensures that the IAF s peacetime requirements for air-to-air refuelling are drastically different from those during war. Thus, it is possible to maintain a small fleet of FRA during peacetime. Building an air-to-air refuelling capability for an air force necessitates a large lead time. These conditions create a conundrum, as the number of FRA required by the IAF during wartime operations is much higher than the peacetime requirement. Procuring the requisite quantity entails a sunk cost during peacetime. Conversely a small peacetime FRA fleet shall be grossly inadequate during war. This situation is unique to India and the fourth largest air force in the world. Equally unique is the likely solution. India s national carrier Air India Maharaja has a fleet of 101 commercial aircraft. The Government of India, exercises operational and functional control of Air India and has often tasked the airline to undertake non-profit commitments to meet national interests. As the Government pays for the aircraft of the IAF and Air India, could multi-role tanker aircraft be used by Air India in peace and meet the air-to-air refuelling requirements of the IAF during war, when commercial operations are likely to be curtailed This thesis provides a holistic analysis of the IAF s conundrum. It first identifies all likely options that might satisfy the IAF s air-to-air refuelling requirements during war.
- Transport Aircraft
- Military Forces and Organizations