Air International 1987-12
Defending India's Frontier
A Vajra/Mirage 2000H of No 7 (Battleaxes) Sqn with an An-32 Sutlej transport in the background.
An An-32 Sutlej loading Indian Army para commandos.
The Mil Mi-25 (export version of the Mi-24 Hind) anti-armour helicopter equips only one IAF squadron.
The Mi-25 anti-armour helicopter of No 125 Sqn is one of the comparatively small batch of aircraft of this type so far procured by the IAF primarily for evaluation and the development of gunship operating techniques. The IAF is by far the largest operator of Mil helicopters outside the Communist bloc.
Close up of a Mil Mi-26 (NATO name Halo) in service with the Indian Air Force.
An Mi-26 heavy lift helicopter of No 126 Squadron photographed at a forward base in Ladakh. This immense helicopter is seen by the IAF as a true "force multiplier" and has proved highly successful.
The Mi-26, the world's largest helicopter, now equips No 126 Squadron, and one of this unit's helicopters is seen at a forward air base in Ladakh.
A MiG-21M of No 26 (Warriors) Sqn. this being one of seven IAF squadrons still mounted on this and the FL versions of the MiG-21, which, together with the later MiG-21bis, remain the backbone of the interceptor force and are candidates for replacement by the LCA in the mid-’nineties.
Latest addition to the Indian Air Force’s fighter inventory is the MiG-29, which, christened Baaz (Eagle), is seen here in Indian insignia for the first time. The Baaz now equips two of the Service's squadrons.
The Hunter Mk 56As of No 20 Squadron's Thunderbolts display team were placed on stand-by for close air support in the high Himalayas as recently as 1985 during one of the periodic crises with Pakistan over the Siachin glacier.
A Shamsher (Jaguar International) of No 5 (The Tuskers) Sqn seen flying with four 1.000-lb (453.6-kg) bombs and a pair of long-range tanks. This unit was the first to convert to Indian-standard BAe production Jaguars. 40 of the single-seat version now being followed by 76 built by HAL.
The Vajra (Mirage 2000H), seen in service with No 7 (Battleaxes) Sqn, while primarily an air superiority fighter, is seen by the IAF as a multirole aircraft, and a range of new-generation air-to-ground weaponry has been identified for this type.
An Il-76MD Gajraj of No 44 Sqn flying over the Himalayas. The Il-76MD began to enter service with the IAF in July 1985. and will eventually equip both Nos 44 and 25 Squadrons, some 24 of these transports being on order.
Il-76MD Gajraj heavy transports of No 44 Squadron. Selected in preference to the C-130 Hercules primarily on political grounds, the Gajraj has successfully operated in and out of high-altitude airfields in Ladakh and provides the IAF with true strategic airlift capability.
One of the surviving An-12s of No 25 Sqn photographed while performing a supply drop mission in north-eastern Ladakh, escorted by two MiG-23MF Rakshaks. The ageing An-12 is progressively giving place to the Il-76 Gajraj.
A MiG-23MF Rakshak of No 223 Sqn, this air defence fighter equipping two squadrons, both having been newly raised specifically to operate this type.
A Mil Mi-17 Pratap disgorging troops during an assault exercise. The Mi-17 and its predecessor, the Mi-8 Rana, are among the most numerous of IAF helicopters and fulfil a variety of roles, from assault transportation to ELINT/SIGINT tasks. At the present time, 10 squadrons operate the Pratap and the Rana.
An Mi-17 Pratap of one of the 10 IAF squadrons that operate this and the earlier Mi-8 Rana to provide the backbone of the IA F's rotorcraft force.
The MiG-23BN Vijay has now seen almost seven years of IAF service, having first entered service with No 10 Sqn in January 1981. The Vijay is well liked by both pilots and groundcrew, being a robust offensive air support aircraft with excellent handling qualities and good performance.
A line-up of MiG-23BN Vijay tactical air support aircraft which currently equip four squadrons, Nos 10, 31, 220 and 221. The more potent MiG-27M is now supplementing the MiG-23 in the TASA role.
A MiG-23U operational trainer of No 10 (Winged Dagger) Sqn, 15 of these tandem two-seaters having been procured by the IAF.
The MiG-23U, seen in service with No 10 Sqn, serves for the conversion of pilots to the MiG-23BN and MF, and to the MiG-27M, these two-seaters being distributed between the squadrons operating variants of the variable-geometry MiG, which, together, will eventually equip about 12 IAF squadrons.
The MiG-27M Bahadur, the example illustrated serving with No 222 Sqn, is scheduled to progressively replace the lightweight Ajeet with four squadrons, the first of which. No 9 (Wolf Pack) Sqn, has already converted to this latest MiG to be built by HAL.
A HAL-assembled MiG-27M Bahadur of No 222 (Tiger Sharks) Sqn, the first IAF unit to convert to this type of which 165 are scheduled to he manufactured at Nasik.
One of the IAF's tandem two-seat MiG-25Us employed as conversion trainers for the Service's handful of MiG-25R reconnaissance aircraft.
A HAL-built Do 228 which incorporates a wide loading door for bulky items. The Do 228 began to enter IAF service in October 1987, and many of the 50 on order for the Service will replace the DHC-3 Otters of Nos 41 and 59 Squadrons. The Do 228 will also succeed the remaining C-47s currently serving in a variety of roles.