An IDC Analysis 


New Delhi, 06 September 2005

The Indian Air Force is being exposed to foreign Air Forces and is savouring the experience. In November the USAF will be at the Kaliakunda airbase, to exercise and improve their systems and the preparations have been well reported from Japan's Kadena Air Base. It shows how the professional IAF is slowly pressing forward. Air Chief ACM SP Tyagi has defended the MiG 21s and the MOD approved the appointments of Air Marshal Nagalia as DCAS, who controls acquisitions. Air Marshal Major, the Air Officer Personnel, in the current seniortiy speculations is tipped to be next in line for Chief if the status quo remains. Finally all senior IAF posts were filled up and we congratulate and wish them well.

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan –– Getting to know their U.S. counterparts before an exercise on their home turf in November, six members of India's air force visited Misawa from Aug. 21–27 as part of a bilateral exchange. The 13th Fighter Squadron and 610th Air Control Flight at Misawa each hosted two pilots, two controllers and two safety officers from various units in India. They toured base facilities and worksites, sampled American culture and cuisine and learned about day-to-day military operations at the Base, including flight operations, maintenance, air traffic control and crash recovery.

"A big part of it is to be familiar with how we operate so we can safely operate together during the exercise, as well as build some of the rapport and friendship that really make the exercise successful," said Lt. Col. Chuck Toplikar, 13th Fighter Squadron operations director. Misawa and Kadena Air Base on Okinawa Island are gearing up to send about 256 military personnel from the 35th Fighter Wing and 961st Airborne Warning and Control Systems, respectively, to Cope India, Nov. 7–19. The exercise marks the second year the two air forces will practice simulated combat flying between two types of aircraft. In February 2004, Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, sent six F-15 Eagles to Gawalior.

This year, the exercise –– to be held at Kalaikunda base near Calcutta –– is being expanded in scope: Twelve F-16 CJs from Misawa are to take part, as is an E-3 AWACS aircraft from Kadena. At the Air Force Association's annual Air Warfare Symposium in February, Pacific Air Forces Commander Gen. Paul V. Hester said the training will be a large-force exercise. "We'll have people on the ground, people in the air. It will mark a growing respect between our nations as we work together," he said.

Last month's swap was mutual: The same week in August the Indian air force members came to Japan, Misawa and Kadena each sent one airman who will participate in the exercise to India. The two are getting to ride in a Russian-made SU-30 fighter, one of the Indian officers said.

Toplikar said, "It's getting to know each other, to know each other's cultures, getting to know how we think and operate, and continuing to build a friendship between the two countries as a whole." On their last day in Japan, the group met Lt. Gen. Bruce A. Wright, U.S. Forces Japan and 5th Air Force commander, and spent time with the Japan Air Self-Defense Force's 8th Tactical Squadron, based at Misawa.

Wing Commander and MiG-29 fighter pilot, said the whole week was wonderful.

"For me [the highlight] was riding in the F-16."

"Ride?" Toplikar said. "You flew it."

"I did get to fly, yes," Srinivas said, laughing.

Deputy Chief of Air Staff

AIR Marshal A. K. Nagalia, AVSM, VM, VSM, took over charge as Deputy Chief of Air Staff, at Air Headquarters, New Delhi with effect from August 24.

Air Marshal Nagalia was born on February 13, 1947 in Dehradun. He is an alumunus of National Defence Academy and was commissioned in the fighter stream of the Indian Air Force on June 2, 1968. He has about 4,500 hours of flying to his credit. In his initial tenures at he flew Hunter and MiG-21 aircraft. In 1974, he underwent the flying instructors' course. He has done an instructional tenure at Air Force Academy and also a deputation to Iraq as flying instructor. He has instructed on Kiran, PC-7 and L-39 aircraft.

Air Marshal Nagalia is a graduate of the first Experimental Test Pilot course in India and has served as test pilot in various capacities in three tenures at Aircraft System Testing Establishment (ASTE). He has flown most of the fighter and transport aircraft held in the IAF inventory. He has commanded No. 6 Squadron comprising Jaguar and Canberra aircraft and is presently Commodore Commandant of this Squadron. He is also a graduate of the Royal Air Force Staff College, UK. He has held several staff appointments at Air Headquarters, including Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Plans), Director Air Staff Requirements, Director -- Project, Joint Director Air Staff Requirements, etc. He has also served as Air Attaché at Embassy of India, Kiev, Ukraine. He graduated from National Defence College in December 2000 and thereafter commanded Aircraft System Testing Establishment. Since October 1, 2004, he has been holding the appointment of Air Officer-in-Charger Personnel.

Air Marshal Nagalia was awarded Vishisht Seva Medal in 1985, Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry) in 1993 and Ati Vishisht Seva Medal in 2004.

Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Air Command

Air Marshal FH Major AVSM SC VM took over the charge as Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Air Command.

Air Marshal FH Major was born on 29 May 1947 in Secunderabad. After schooling at Wesley High School, he did two years in Nizam’s College doing his B Sc in Mathematics & Physics. In 1965, he joined the Indian Air Force and was commissioned in the IAF in 1967.

After spending his early years in the Eastern Sector flying helicopters, he was one of the first pilots in the IAF to convert on to twin-turbine helicopters (MI-8) in 1972.  The vast experience he built up on helicopters made him one of the youngest pilots (as a Flt Lt) to be awarded the highest Helicopter Category ‘A’ and Instrument Rating “MG”.  On promotion to the rank of Wing Commander, he commanded the first MI-17 Squadron of the IAF and commenced operations with this helicopter in the world’s highest battlefield – the Siachin Glacier.  On promotion to the rank of Group Captain, he commanded yet another MI-17 Squadron and led this Squadron into battle during IPKF operations in Srilanka.  For his leadership and courage, he was awarded the Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry) during this tenure.  Later, in the same rank and as Station Commander of Air Force Station Sarsawa, he was instrumental in carrying out a daring rescue operation in which 11 people were rescued from a stranded cable car in the middle of a valley at the “Timber Trail” resort at Parwanoo, HP.  For this act of gallantry, he was awarded the “Shaurya Chakra” by the President of India.

He has commanded a Tactical Air Centre alongside a Strike Corps in the desert sector and he has held important staff appointments as the Joint Director (Helicopter Operations) and as an Air Commodore, he was Director Operations (Transport & Helicopter).  In 1999, he took over as the Air Officer Commanding Leh (Ladakh) in the aftermath of the Kargil conflict.  For his leadership, successful accomplishment of his tasks and distinguished service of a very high order, he was awarded the “Ati Vishist Seva Medal” by the President of India on 26 Jan 2002. He was promoted to the rank of Air Vice Marshal on 04 Feb 2002 and appointed as Assistant Chief of the Air Staff (Personnel Airmen & Civilians) at Air Headquarters. 

He is a graduate of the National Defence College and Army War College, Mhow.

He was promoted to the rank of Air Marshal on 02 Jan 2004 and was the Deputy Chief of Integrated Defence Staff (Operations) before taking over this appointment.

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