The Indian Air Force is more powerful than you think

India hasn’t been given a lot of credit as a military power. Given that Mahatma Ghandi is highly revered for his advocacy of non-violence, it seems ironic that India has quietly become a significant military power in Asia. This is evidenced best by the Indian Air Force. When it comes to air-power, India is hard to beat.

An upgraded Indian MiG-27 Flogger. (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

Part of what makes India a formidable airborne combatant is that it operates such a wide variety of aircraft. notes that seven multi-role fighters are in service with the Indian Air Force and at least two other systems are on order. These aircraft range from the venerable MiG-21 Fishbed (which India has modified into an effective fighter) to the ultra-modern Sukhoi Su-30MKI Flanker and the indigenously designed Tejas (formerly known as the Light Combat Aircraft). The force totals over 800 fighters.

The MiG-21 Bison. Note the AA-12 “Adder” and AA-11 “Archer” missiles. (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

But there’s more to an air force than just fighters. India also sports a lot of transports, ranging from the relatively small An-32s to the powerful C-17 Globemasters — and these are just two of the six transport types in service. Additionally, India has a grand total of seven Il-78 Midas aerial refueling planes and two Airbus A330-based tankers on order.

An Il-78 refuels two Mirage 2000s. (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

Staffing such a force requires a talented crew, and you can’t have that without trainers. India has over 300 trainers, from British-designed Hawk 132s to India’s own HJT-16 Kiran. The country also has two-seat versions of the Jaguar and Mirage 2000 to help train pilots for the vast force of fighters.

An Indian Air Force (IAF) 14th Squadron SEPECAT (Breguet/BAC) Jaguar GR-1 Shamser (Sword of Justice) ground attack aircraft prepares to receive fuel from a IAF 78th Squadron Ilyushin IL-78 Midas aerial refueling aircraft. (Image from USAF)

The Indian Air Force also has a lot of helicopters. Many are Mi-8 or Mi-17 “Hip” transports, joined by home-built Dhruvs. A small force of Mi-24 Hinds are in service, and the country has ordered some of the latest AH-64 Apaches, but the bulk of the attack helicopters are from the country’s Light Combat Helicopter program.

Two BAe Hawks. (Image from Indian Navy)

In short, if a country wants to attack India, it’s got one heck of a fight coming. The video below has more on this very lethal air force.