India's IL-78 Fleet Rusting Away Hangar-Less Since 2003, Says Auditor
India's top auditor, the Comptroller and Auditor General, has revealed that the Indian Air Force's (IAF) fleet of six IL-78 refueling aircraft has been rusting in the open because of a lack of hangars. There is only one hangar for the six planes, the CAG noted.
New Delhi (Sputnik) – The CAG report tabled in Parliament said the IAF is missing pivotal infrastructure and dedicated refueling corridor for its air-to-air refueling IL-78s. CAG also points out the aircraft require 11480 feet to 15022 feet-long runway for the carrying of optimum quantity of fuel but of the 10 airfields, only one is 10500 feet long.
"Six IL-78 aircraft were procured during 2003-04, but only one hangar is available. Due to non-availability of hangers, the costly air assets remained in the open which adversely affected their serviceability and life," CAG report tabled in the Parliament reads.
"Aircraft hangars are required for scheduled and unscheduled maintenance activity and runway for taking off and landing. Limited availability of these will adversely impact maintenance and operational efficiency, respectively. However, creating full-fledged maintenance and operational infrastructure at multiple locations is resource intensive and therefore, air forces all over the world create these facilities at restricted number of locations for optimal operations," Group Captain Kishore Kumar Khera, a serving fighter pilot of the Indian Air Force with 31 years of operational service, told Sputnik.
As country did not create required support facility for recce systems along the China border, air-to-air refueling by utilizing IL-78 refueler aircraft became essential for recce missions in these areas.
According to the International Civil Aviation Organizations (ICAO) requirement, air-to-air refueling has to be carried out only within dedicated air corridors, but IAF does not have the crucial 12 dedicated air corridors for it. "The absence of dedicated air corridors would adversely impact the training as well as operation of air-to-air refueling," the CAG noted.
An expert says that earmarking or absence of dedicated air corridors for air-to-air refueling has no impact on war waging capability of a nation. "During war-like situation, entire air space is regulated to facilitate operations and is normally utilized in a very flexible manner for best operational output. Same air space can be utilized within a block of an hour for offensive operations, defensive operations or support operations like aerial refueling," Group Captain Kishore Kumar Khera added.
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