IAF faces shortage of 400 pilots

The Indian Air Force is facing shortage of about 400 pilots in various categories and plans to fill the vacancies within the next two years, Chief of Air Staff P V Naik said on Tuesday.

"There is shortage of about 300 to 400 pilots. We have upped our intake rate. It will take a year or two to fill up the posts," Air Chief Marshal Naik said at a joint press conference with his British counterpart Stephen Dalton on the final day of the 15-day India-UK joint air exercise 'Indradhanush' at at Kalaikunda air base in West Bengal's West Midnapur district.

While Mirage-2000, Sukhoi 30 and MiG-27 from the Indian side participated in the exercise, the Royal Air Force showcased its Eurofighters, Typhoons and airborne warning and control system. An IAF AWACS aircraft also participated in the exercise for the first time.

Pointing out that the Air Force had more than 32 squadrons Naik said that there was a need to increase their number. "We also need more satellites, so that we become a networked air force."

With India planning to acquire 126 Medium-weight multi role combat aircraft a cost of $ 12 bn (about Rs 5,300 crore), the air force has submitted the test reports of MMRCAs like the F-16, F-18, Typhoon, Gripen and MiG 35 to the government on July 31.

"The MMRCAs will help us tremendously. I have no reservation on any of them. Although our present capability is sufficient to complete our mission of protecting the country from any threat from air or space," Naik said.

In reply to a question, Naik said he was not aware of the government further short-listing two out of the six models of MMRCAs it had chosen.