While the Indian Army should be credited for having come up with the idea that resulted in Rudra, it still did not address the Army’s requirement to be able to concentrate aerial platforms in sufficient numbers or with sufficient payloads in a dynamic battlefield. A RW platform is excellent for operations at low levels, operating in an airspace that is protected by army’s integrated air defence units, both short and medium range, but suffers from the handicap that the enemy may not necessarily always be within range of own air defence coverage, nor be devoid of his own air defence elements that can easily target a slow moving, low level platform. For a contested air space, as is expected till IAF can establish an air superiority, with both the threat and the altitude being held constant, a FW aircraft not only provides greater speed and payload, but also a longer reach in comparison to a RW, with increased survivability and possibility of undertaking deeper interdiction missions in order to potentiate a ground offense. Potentially, a platform like HAL Hawk-I, operating in Army Aviation as a dedicated CAS platform, allows the Army to conduct deeper interdiction operations/CAS at a higher tempo than possible only with RW platforms.It was due to this important fact that both the IAF and IN have looked at possibility of using their Hawks in CAS roles, with the latter having extensively trained to employ them for same in various amphibious exercises.

The establishment of Aviation Brigades, as being discussed in the public domain, with a Fixed Wing component, essentially allows the IAF to free up all its assets to achieve its own operational directives - that of establishment of air superiority and denial of aerospace access to the enemy, while affording the Army the capability to employ air power for CAS/interdiction of enemy troops and armour in order to enhance the effectiveness of own operations by IBGs and achieve early gains in order to strengthen Indian position at the time of negotiations.
Very interesting read. I do wonder why you didn't mention the role of drones? Drones can be excellent CAS and are also impervious of typical "what if it gets attacked by JF-17/SD-10 etc". If Pakistan has started to use JF-17s to take out cheap drones with one or two hellfire like missiles, we have already won the war. Also, I see drones as a natural platform to accomodate and leverage those IAF pilots who have a lot of experience but cannot keep on providing service in IAF because they have an underlying physical issue of eyesight etc.
  • Agree
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