The Indian Air Force Day ushers in a brief spell of autumn in the plains of north India — the sunshine becomes milder, the evenings get cooler and the air embraces the crispness of impending winter. This magical spell, is however, all too brief. The onset of winter brings with it choking pollution. Thankfully, the nightmare that follows the magic happens well after the festivities of the air force day.
As always, this issue commemorates the Indian Air Force, which celebrates its 87th anniversary this year. Congratulations also to the new chief of air staff, Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria, who took command a week before the air force day. He takes over at a time when national expectations from the IAF are sky-high following the delivery of the edge of the seat thriller in February 2019 in the form of air strikes deep inside Pakistan. The air chief then, Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa, had said in one of his media interactions after the air strikes that if the IAF had the Rafale fighters, the situation would have been very different.
Well, Rafale is on its way. The first aircraft will received in France on Air Force Day. While the new-Gen fighter will merely fill a small gap in the capability, it has the potential for being the change-maker for the IAF.
In many ways, 2019 has been the news-maker year for the IAF which began with the surgical strikes. The following months saw induction of such platforms as the Chinook and Apache helicopters. Meanwhile the programme for Avro replacement has also shown some forward movement after a long time, as has the S-400 air defence missile system for which the government has paid the first tranche. So clearly, the IAF has plenty to look forward to. This is the reason the FORCE cover headline says Future Beckons.
The lead article looks at the importance of not only imbibing new technologies but also incorporating them in doctrinal thinking, without which no amount of new platforms can transform the way a force operates.
Yet, numbers remain important. Hence, there are articles on IAF acquisitions: fighters, transports, trainers, aerial weapons and force multipliers. Add to these are ready reckoners on the IAF exercises and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations during 2019.
Given the growing importance of space as a facilitator in informed warfare, we dedicate a section to space-based operations. Then of course are the regular features like news updates from the defence services as well as industry.
Enjoy the issue!