The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) is more vulnerable than ever before even as long-range standoff weapons fired from planes and beyond visual-range missiles and drones have taken over in the modern air warfare where daring air raids with fighter jets flying across border may not be needed anymore.
These views were expressed by experts and former pilots, who have seen air battle during the 1965 Indo-Pak War, while debating “Air Power Lessons Learnt from the 1965 War and their Implementation” on the last day of the Military literature Festival (December 7-9) here today.
Responding to a question about the now role of the Indian Air Force in the context of Pakistan and China, Air Vice Marshal Manmohan Bahadur (retd), who is Additional Director General of think-tank Centre for Air Power Studies (CAPS), said: “A tandem manned and unmanned mission will be a reality. A human sitting inside a manned plane (fighter jet or transporter) will control the UAV that will be flying ahead to fire at a target. There will be a human behind the decision”.
He said the capability existed to have long-range strikes, “but unless we have total air dominance, the intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) facilities make it difficult. Yes, the beyond visual range (BVR) missiles are here to stay”, he said, adding “space-based weapons are far away. We are too far to see something fired from space at a ground target”.
New Delhi-based Pushpinder Singh, author of several books on military, including one on the PAF, said: “The PAF is more vulnerable than ever before.” In 1965, he said, the “PAF was cocky, they were young”. Deep down inside they knew if they made a mistake, they could be wiped out.
“They had this plan to strike at IAF bases, but they fumbled and messed up.” However, he said, in the past five to seven years, the PAF honed its skill in fighting a mountain battle due to its efforts in North Waziristan.
Jagan Pilarisetti, author of two books — one each on 1965 and 1971 wars —pointed out that during the 1965 battle, India did not have the air-to-air missile that the PAF had. “There was no strategy to win the war. We were just reacting. Lessons were learnt and in 1971 it was a different no-holds-barred fight.”
Air Marshal Bharat Kumar (retd) moderated the session. Group Captain RS Chhatwal discussed the role of radars in helping fighter pilots.
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