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Air Combat Training
SANJAY BADRI MAHARAJ explains why it is of vital importance to impart the best training to fighter pilots on whose operational percepts and competence the Indian Air Force is structured
Sanjay Badri Maharaj

The Indian Air Force operates a robust and effective flight training system which provides a solid foundation for air combat. At the heart of this is a system that combines aircraft, simulators and a operational conversion system that emphasizes building air combat skills before a fighter pilot is declared operational on the various types of aircraft.

Flight training in Indian Air Force

The IAF operates a three-stage flight training programme which involves the use of basic turboprop trainers, an intermediate state with basic jet trainers and an advanced stage with advanced jet trainers.

India's fighter pilots begin their flight and academic at the Indian Air Force Academy in Dundigal. This training comprises three stages. The first stage lasts six months of flight-related training which takes place alongside the standard joint services training that all three services receive.

Prior to flying, recruits to the flying branch first receive technical training on a trainer aircraft, and this includes the theoretical teaching of air combat principles plus practical demonstration of aircraft systems. It should be noted that the IAF accepts trainees who do not come through the National Defence Academy and such trainees must complete a six month preflying training programme before beginning the first stage of training at the IAF Academy.

The progression of flying training in the Indian Air Force has three stages: Basic, Intermediate and Advanced.

Basic Stage: This stage is where new pilots receive simple instructions in flying and build psycho motor skills. This stage uses turboprop aircraft, and formerly used piston-engine aircraft. These aircraft are inherently easy to fly and maintain and provide ab initio training in the safest and most economical way possible. Upon completion of the 55 to 50 hours of flying training, the trainees would have acquired basic flying skills and learned to manage a flying machine and undertake basic maneuvers at relatively low speed.

Intermediate Stage: Compared to the global trend of using turboprop trainers for both basic and intermediate training, with a single 120 hour process, the IAF incorporates 60 hours of intermediate training on simple jet aircraft which involves 60 hours of jet training over 24 weeks and which should consolidate basic skills and teach simple tactical maneuvering.

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October 2019

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