India’s recent defeat in an air encounter with the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has exposed it ‘vintage’ military as upto 68 per cent of the Indian armed forces’ equipment is old, said a report in the New York Times.
In a retaliatory move by the PAF on February 27, two Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter aircraft were shot down when they were pounced on by JF-17 Thunders.
“Our troops lack modern equipment, but they have to conduct 21st-century military operations,” said a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defense, Gaurav Gogoi.
The aerial dogfight between the two nuclear-armed neighbours is the first in nearly five decades and was a test for the armed forces of the two countries. The result, however, left observers dumbfounded as the PAF emerged as the better player in the field and India had to suffer the embarrassment of losing jets.
“India’s armed forces are in alarming shape,” stated the NYT piece.
The renowned US publication further said that if intense warfare broke out tomorrow, India could supply its troops with only 10 days of ammunition. It is to be noted that such estimates are often not accurate, and consumption of ammunition and other war essential supplies during hostilities is always higher than predicted, hence, Indian might have less than 10 days of stocks.
The article further said that funding remains the biggest challenge for the Indian military as most of the budget goes to pay salaries for the million-plus armed forces.
Reducing troop numbers is also not a viable option for the Indian armed forces as the military provides jobs to the country, which struggles with chronic unemployment, added NYT.
Two days after Pakistan victory in the dogfight over the Line of Control (LoC), the government sent home an IAF wing commander who was captured by the Pakistan Army after his Mig-21 Bison was shot down by PAF JF-17 Thunders.
The capture of the pilot and his eventual return capped the end of an embarrassing week for the Indian government.
The tension between the two neighbours remains high, but the return of the pilot in a ‘gesture of peace’ did help in de-escalating the situation.