The advent of the air launched missiles greatly changed the dynamics of aerial combat. The air engagement between Indian Air Force (IAF) and Pakistan Air Force (PAF) on February 27 shifted focus back to aerial weapons. IAF had clear Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile advantage after inductions of Mirage 2000 and MiG-29s. This had got altered after PAF got the AMRAAM AIM-120C-5 on July 26, 2010, along with the upgraded F-16C/D Block 50/52+ aircraft. Five AMRAAMs were reportedly fired during the engagement. Only one ‘may have hit’ Abhinandan’s aircraft, but these did force the IAF aircraft to carry out defensive maneuvering to shrink the missile envelope. Media reports indicate that IAF immediately ordered the latest variants of Israeli Spice-2000 glide bombs and Russian R-27 and R-77 BVR missiles.
Acute shortage of ammunition and weapons in the Armed Forces have been routinely highlighted by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India in its reports to the Parliament. While the IAF is at an all-time low of 30 fighter squadrons, the inventory of aerial weapons like missiles and Precision Guided Munitions (PGM), is also far from sufficient for even a short intense war. While nations give great importance to high-visibility, high-value contracts to acquire aircraft, weapons get a lower priority. Armaments have a finite shelf-life and quicker obsolescence. Weapon platforms are no good without potent armament.
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