With the Army and Navy having achieved a lot in 2016, the Air Force is no less behind in modernising itself to reach the modern air warfare levels and air defence. The Air Force achievements in 2016 say a lot about a long way to go for the Air Force in modernising its air power. The various achievements, upgrades and milestones of the air force in the past year are:
- Rafale Acquisition deal: The much awaited Rafale deal with France was signed on 23 September 2016 in New Delhi under which France will provide 36 Rafale fighter jets to India at a cost of €7.87 billion (around Rs 59,000 crore). The Rafale fighter has 14 India-specific enhancements and a modern air-to-air missile that restores its edge in aerial combat over Pakistan. The twin-engine, multi-role aircraft will be fitted with the 150-km range Meteor missile in the weapons package, which is capable of carrying out all combat missions like air defence, interception, ground support, in-depth strikes, reconnaissance, anti-ship strikes and nuclear deterrence.
- India gets First Women Fighter Pilots: History was created as the first three women fighter pilots of the IAF were commissioned at the Combined Graduation Parade at Air Force Academy, Dundigal on 18 June 2016. India joined a select few nations in the world that have women fighter pilots. These women fighter pilots are Flying Officer Avani Chaturvedi, Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh.
- Marshal of the Air Force Arjan Singh DFC felicitates three Women Fighter Pilots: On 12 August, Marshal of the Air Force Arjan Singh DFC felicitated the three women fighter pilots who are ushering the IAF into a new era of women in combat roles in the IAF.
- Induction of LCA Tejas: The Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) “Tejas” was inducted into No. 45 Squadron of Indian Air Force (IAF) on 1 July 2016. Its motto is ‘Ajeet Nabha’. The Squadron will operate from Bangalore for nearly two years before it moves to its designated location at Sulur near Coimbatore. It is the first fighter Squadron to be a part of the Southern Air Command of IAF headquartered at Thiruvananthapuram.
- ALG: The upgraded Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) in Arunachal Pradesh was made functional on 19 August 2016. It may be recalled that following a MoU between Government of Arunachal Pradesh and Ministry of Defence in June 2009, the IAF had embarked on an ambitious reconstruction plan to upgrade eight ALGs, including infrastructure development at an overall outlay of nearly Rs. 1,000 crore. The ALGs at Walong, Ziro, Along, Mechuka and Pasighat have since been upgraded and are operational now.
- IAF Fighter on Lucknow-Agra Expressway: Three IAF Mirage-2000s and three Su-30s successfully carried out Trial Landings on the Lucknow- Agra Express Highway on 21 November 2016. These fighter aircraft successfully carried out a ‘touch and go’ on a portion of the newly constructed Agra-Lucknow Expressway.