New Delhi: Indian Air Force has become the first military wing to completely eliminate the crippling shortage in its officer’s cadre.
As on April 7, 2017, IAF has no shortage in its officer’s strength while the Army and Navy are still deficient of 7,986 and 1,256 officers respectively. From a time when the air force had to re-employ its retired offices primarily to fly the transport fleet, the service has come a long way to fill up the gap in its officer’s cadre.
On November 1, 2014, the force was short of 357 officers. With the intake of new batches, the hiatus came down to 29 as on August 1. 2016. The year-end retirements led to a gap of 437 on January 1, 2017 as against the sanctioned strength of 12,458 officers.
Fresh commissioning of officers eliminated the shortage in the IAF, defence ministry sources said. In the Army and Navy too, the deficiency in the officer cadre came down over years, but they would take several years to reach the no-shortage status.
The three services, however, continue to have large shortfall in the number of ordinary soldiers, sailors and airmen – the men behind the machines in the battlefields. Indian Army, the biggest of the three services, suffers from the shortage of 25,472 men.
The shortfall increased in the Air Force and Navy in recent months. As on September 30, 2016, Indian Navy had a shortage of 10,982 sailors, but the gap went up to 12,785 on January 2017.
Similarly for the IAF, the gap in the strength enhanced to 13,614 on March 1, 2017 as against 9,841 on November 1, 2016. In the last 10 years, a gradual increase in the induction reduced the deficiencies on airmen strength considerably. Further, the training capacity (for airmen) has been increased from 5000 per year in 2015 to 6200 in 2017, said an official.
In the last decade, IAF’s training activity was also hampered due to the absence of basic and intermediate trainer jets and inadequate availability of the ranges for firing practice. While induction of Pilatus basic training aircraft resolved the crisis partly, the force still doesn’t have an intermediate jet trainer.
Firing practice in Dollang Mukh (Assam), Singpur (Gujarat), Sarmat (Madhya Pradesh) and Tilpat (Uttar Pradesh) ranges are limited due to restrictions from civilian administration.