With a skewed squadron strength and a limited number of fighter jets, the Indian Air force would be taking close to two days in shifting focus from Pakistan to China in case of an emergency two-front war situation. However, with a squadron strength of 42, the IAF can smoothly shift its focus from the northern frontier to the western frontier.
This lessons came after the recent Gagan Shakti exercise testing the Air Force's capability.
"With a full strength of 42, the Air Force can launch war within hours. But, the depleting numbers don't allow this. Mobilising resources from one end to another in less than 48 hours is a big achievement, even though we would ideally want this to be quicker," said an Air Force officer.
The Indian Air Force that is operating with only 33 fighter squadrons against the sanctioned strength of 42 will be further reduced to only 16 by 2032 and 19 by 2027.
As of now, the Air Force requires at least 45 squadrons but it is well short of the target. Each squadron has 18-20 fighter jets.
"During the exercise, we tried to maximise what we can do with our current capability. Quick deployment at a short notice was one of the key takeaways," said an officer.