Recalling Air Power in the Indian Context

Wing Commander Swaim Prakash Singh, MSc, MPhil, psc+ is working as a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Air Power Studies (CAPS), New Delhi. He is currently pursuing Ph.D. (thesis submitted) in Defence and Strategic Studies.
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  • April-June 2022

    With the announcement of the proposed theaterisation of the existing structure of the armed forces, there have been numerous exchanges of ideas, formal and informal discourses, official and unofficial exchange of views and perspectives in recent months. During such exchanges, a standpoint of equating the Air Force of a nation with the Artillery has emerged and it requires to be put in a proper perspective. Indian military history has unfortunately not highlighted the lethality and importance of air power, which is the root cause for incorrect understanding of air power. Therefore, the problem remains that despite being the most potent and lethal way of modern warfighting in the contemporary technological era, air power has been least understood. Such contradictory remarks clearly indicate the requirement of putting a proper perspective on matters like air power, theaterisation, integrated command Headquarters (HQs) and, most importantly, jointmanship. In an attempt towards that, the article will bring out the efficacy of air power citing examples from the wars and conflict on Indian soil. The article will also bring out the missing link of a proper perspective on the role of the Air Force, and analyse the importance of Air Force and air power as tools of modern warfighting and as the preferred choice of instrument for the national leadership. The lethality of air power cannot be discarded in the present technological era as it has been quite significant and decisive in numerous wars and conflicts. Air power is strategic in nature, capable of effect-based operations and parallel operations. Air forces around the world are transitioning from air to aerospace power in order to prepare for the future.

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