IAF to induct woman pilot in MIG-29 Squadron
After operating MIG-21 Bison, Sukhoi-30 and Rafale, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is set to induct women fighter pilots in MIG-29 Squadron. The force started inducting women as fighter pilots five years ago, a turning point in the armed forces. According to IAF officials, pilots are assigned to fighter squadrons as per laid-down norms regardless of gender. Flight Lieutenant Bhavana Kanth became first woman to fly MIG-21 Bison solo, while the IAF assigned Flight Lieutenant Shivangi Singh to its first Rafale Squadron based in Ambala. So far, 10 women have been commissioned as fighter pilots and most of them started with MIG-21 Bison. MIG-29s have been upgraded in the last decade with new avionics, weapons, radar and helmet mounted displays. The fighter’s airframe was also overhauled and it was equipped with an in-flight refueling system to expand its range.
Currently, 9118 women officers are serving in the armed forces, with their numbers increasing by almost threefold in last six years. To boost their career progression, armed forces are providing them with more challenging roles. The Indian Navy deployed four Women officers on the warships with two each on INS Vikramaditya and INS Shakti after a gap of almost 24 years, when women from logistics and medical branches were deployed on INS Jyoti in 1997 on an experimental basis. The armed forces are marching towards having women serving in all the branches of the forces. The Army is all set to open its aviation wing to women pilots wherein they were only doing ground duties. The first batch of women pilots will start training in July 2021 to be inducted in Army Aviation Corps. Even the Indian Navy will have pilots operating from warships and staying on board the vessels.
Python-5 is out of Tejas weapons package
Fifth generation air to air missile (AAM), Python-5 manufactured by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defence Systems will not be a part of Tejas Mk1A and Tejas Mk2 both. When the missile was undergoing carriage trials, inflight vibrations and the instability issues had cropped up. Rafael failed to address these issues which resulted in missile being dropped out of the Tejas program completely. Python-5 missiles are used as a part of the SPYDER air defence system operational with India, the Philippines and Georgia. As the missile was readily available in the IAF arsenal it became the natural choice of the IAF and it is also a dual-use missile system, can be used as an interceptor as part of SPYDER air defence system as well as a standalone Close Combat Missile (CCM) on a fighter jet. It is expected that, MBDA’s ASRAAM, also known as Next Generation Close Combat Missile (NGCM) will take place of Python-5. Meanwhile, DRDO is also developing dual-wavelength imaging seeker based Astra short-medium ranged Within Visual Range (WVR) missile for Tejas program. These will replace temporary Russian R-73 missile.
US aims to strengthen security ties with India
The United States Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin was on his maiden visit to India, first from a member of the US president Joe Biden’s administration. In his interaction with the Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, he expressed the US’ intent to elevate and strengthen security ties with India, especially in logistics and information sharing. A week ago, top leaders of the US, Japan, India and Australia- together known as the Quad held their first summit pledging to work together for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region. The US considers India as an important partner in contemporary world politics where international dynamics is rapidly shifting. The Biden-Harris administration aims to boost defence partnership with India through regional security cooperation and military to military interactions and defence trade. India urged US industry to enhance its presence in Indian defence industry after foreign direct investment (FDI) policies in this sector got liberalized. The US is looking forward to forge an alliance of countries to push back against China’s assertiveness in the region.
India, 4th most powerful military in world
A study by defence website Military Direct has ranked India as fourth largest military in the world with China grabbing the top spot. Despite their enormous military budgets, the USA comes at 2nd place followed by Russia, India and France, the UK takes the 9th place. The study took into account “ultimate military strength index” which involved budgets, number of inactive and active military personnel, air, sea, land and nuclear resources, average salaries and weight of equipment. China scores 82 out of 100, and may come out as a top dog in a hypothetical super conflict. The study said that in such a conflict China would win by sea, USA by air and Russia by land.