Amid weapon shortage, IAF gets new weapon system branch
The Indian Air Force (IAF) is expected to get a new boost, thanks to the approval of a new weapon systems (WS) branch. The Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari made this announcement on the sidelines of the Air Force Day parade in Chandigarh on Saturday. The branch will have a specialized cadre to enhance the war-fighting capability of the IAF.
Why does this story matter?
- The declaration comes almost a month after a new report asserts that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "Make in India" initiative is to blame for India's defense forces "running out of weaponry."
- Last month, the Indian Navy unveiled INS Vikrant, the nation's first-ever aircraft carrier.
- Although it is a significant accomplishment, the 45,000-tonne mega-ship took 20 years to make.
What did the Air Chief say?
"On this historic occasion, it is my privilege to announce that the government has approved the creation of a weapon system branch for the officers in the IAF," said the Air Chief. "This will essentially be for the manning of four specialized streams of surface-to-surface missiles, surface-to-air missiles, remotely piloted aircraft, and weapon system operators in twin and multi-crew aircraft," he said.
Video update shared by IAF on Twitter
The Indian Air Force announced the creation of the Weapon System branch, a new branch for the operational utilisation of the latest weapon systems— DISHA by Indian Air Force (@CareerinIAF) October 8, 2022
Keep following us for more updates on the WS Branch in the Indian Air Force.#IndianAirForce #DISHAbyIndianAirForce #WeaponSystem pic.twitter.com/oigaRdwjRf
'New recruits will join the branch through Agnipath scheme'
"Creation of this branch would result in savings of over Rs. 3,400 crore due to reduced expenditure on flying training," Air Chief said. He hinted at recruiting new personnel of the branch under the Agnipath scheme. Air Chief said the induction of air warriors through the scheme is a challenge but it gives a chance to bring young Indians to serve the armed forces.
What does the Defence Ministry say?
According to the Defence Ministry, the establishment of the WS branch would include the "unification" of all weapon system operators into a single institution committed to the operational employment of all ground-based and specialized aerial weapon systems. The branch would include Surface-to-Surface missile operators, Surface-to-Air missile operators, Remotely Piloted Aircraft operators, and Weapon System Operators in twin/multi-crew aircraft, the ministry said.
Defense forces running out of weapons: Report
In September, a report published in Bloomberg claimed that India's defense forces are 'running out of weapons' due to PM Modi's 'Make in India' policy. The push for domestic manufacturing of defense systems has apparently made India vulnerable to Chinese and Pakistani threats, a senior official told Bloomberg. Experts even said that the policy's slow pace may affect India's defense systems.
India may fall short of helicopters and fighter jets soon
According to the Bloomberg report, the 'Make in India' policy doesn't permit the Indian air force, army, and navy to import a few critical weapons anymore. Officials had said this may leave India short of helicopters by 2026 and fighter jets by 2030. For every military purchase, the program mandates 30-60% of domestically produced components. These caps, and the import block, didn't exist earlier.