The Indian Air Force (IAF) needs new doctrine

  • The indigenization of India’s military industries has increased, moving the country closer to the Atmanirbhar in terms of defence.
  • However, Indian Air Force (IAF) doctrine has to be updated to address contemporary concerns because it is outdated.

Key challenges

  • Weaponization of space: Given that space will likely play a significant part in future conflicts, it is important to evaluate the IAF’s involvement. It is necessary to combat the weaponization of space, with a focus on unmanned platforms and space assets.
  • Capital: As artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning advance, technologies have grown (ML). As a result, incorporating these cutting-edge technology would demand wise investment, which would be difficult in the future.
  • Integration: The new departments that need appropriate integration with the armed services, including the IAF, are the Department of Military Affairs and Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). The establishment of these two locations shouldn’t present the IAF with any difficulties.
  • In addition, the IAF’s precision strike and airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities would need to be properly combined.
  • Pakistan and China are India’s two main enemies. Therefore, it is necessary to engage in cooperative operations with friendly countries, including obligations to alliances like the Quad.
  • Clashes: India needs to be prepared for potential conflicts with other emerging markets. India will demand raw materials from other nations in the future to meet its needs, which could be the cause of war with other global competitors.
  • Technology: To achieve the national objectives, various technologies in all domains, including cyber, space, electromagnetic spectrum, etc., call for the right approach. IAF would therefore need to properly synchronise with these technologies.
  • Human Resource: IAF staff should have proper training to manage new technologies, and they shouldn’t experience stress from the information provided by these technologies.
  • Politics: As national defence is a national endeavour, the IAF’s new policy should emphasise keeping the IAF out of politics.
  • Combat Enablers: It’s important to integrate the air force with combat enablers like aerial refueling, the Airborne Warning and Control System, transport and helicopter fleets, etc. India would suffer if they were neglected because they are necessary for effective military operations.

Necessity of Doctrinal Guidance

  • It is currently questionable whether initiatives for indigenization or breakthroughs are being driven by long-term institutionalised planning and thought.
  • Because doctrinal guidance is necessary for more lasting effects

Guidance need to include

  • Ideas impacted by prior experience
  • Current technological capabilities, and production capacity
  • Availability of human resources
  • An organisational climate that fosters independent thought
  • Discussion of novel ideas. 

Why do we need it? 

  • India’s 2012 airpower doctrine, which goes beyond just stating what airpower is in terms of its responsibilities and defines to a considerably larger extent what airpower is for, reflects the country’s intention to dominate conflict escalation.
  • The 2012 version of the IAF doctrine draws a considerably more direct link between airpower and national security than did the previous IAF doctrine and, in fact, the majority of Western airpower theory.
  • The IAF’s airpower philosophy does not go as far as some earlier British airpower doctrine, which implies that air superiority is a goal unto itself.
  • To direct the future development and use of India’s air force, the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) 2012-era doctrine has to be evaluated and made available to the public. 

Space-related roles and functions

  • The IAF’s roles and missions would need to be re-evaluated because space will play a significant role in future conflicts, if not take centre stage.
  • Despite the Outer Space Treaty, the militarization of space must be accepted. 

Lessons from the USA

  • After the Second World War, America’s nuclear asymmetry was lost when the USSR proved competitive.
  • To combat this, the U.S. introduced the Revolution in Military Affairs, which was so clearly visible during the Gulf War of 1990–1991.
  • To achieve this turnaround, committed scientific teams worked under programmes that were ongoing since 1965 and had political support during many presidential regimes. 

New Doctrine should accommodate

  • A nation that chooses to lose its air superiority will face catastrophe; the IAF’s doctrine must elaborate on this component as a priority notwithstanding the significant financial commitment needed.
  • In order to express their thoughts freely, employees need to feel secure in order to foster the acceleration of original thought. While acknowledging that new technology will lead to an information overload that would actually increase stress in human resources, the IAF’s new doctrine must accept this.
  • The paper must include a doctrinal alignment for expeditionary raw material movements.
  • The IAF philosophy must stress that “national defence” is an endeavour of the entire country and should not be viewed through the lens of the political regime in power.
  • A decision on the integration of air power’s precision attack, airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), and niche strike capabilities would be crucial in the effort to achieve jointness.
  • This should not cause Theatrisation to be slowed down or stopped.
  • These combat support resources are essential for humanitarian aid and disaster relief, which are crucial cogs in military diplomacy and foreign policy as India tries to establish itself as a regional power of note.
  • Ignoring them would be detrimental to India, especially as they are essential for maintaining kinetic power. 
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