Aircraft Equiptements of Indian Air Force

Indian Air Force has aircraft and equipment of Russian, British, French, Israeli, US and Indian origins with Russian aircraft dominating its inventory. HAL produces some of the Russian and British aircraft in India under license.

Among the Fighter and Multi-role Combat Aircrafts, India has Sukhoi Su-30 MKI, Mikoyan MiG-29, Dassault Mirage 2000 (Vajra), MiG-21 etc.

Strike, Attack and Close Support Aircrafts

These are military aircraft designed to attack targets on the ground. They are often deployed as close air support for, and in proximity to, their own ground forces, requiring precision strikes from these aircraft. Further, the SEPECAT Jaguar, known as Shamsher and the Mikoyan MiG-27 known as Bahadur serve as the IAFs primary ground attack force. The IAF currently operates around 140 Jaguars and over 100 MiG-27s.

Airborne Early Warning Aircraft

These aircraft are designed to detect and distinguish hostile aircraft. The system can be used to direct fighters and strike aircraft to their targets and warn them of hostile enemy aircraft in the area. The IAF currently operates the EL/M-2075 Phalcon AEW&C, procured from Israel. A total of 3 such systems are currently in service, with possible orders for 2 more.

Tanker Aircraft

IAF II-78 MKI is used for aerial refuelling which allows IAF aircraft to remain airborne for longer periods, hence enhancing their effective range. Aerial refuelling also allows aircraft to take-off with greater payload (by carrying less fuel during take-off). The IAF currently operates 6 Ilyushin Il-78MKIs for aerial refuelling roles.

Transport Aircraft

Transport aircraft are typically used to deliver troops, weapons, supplies and other military equipment to the IAF field of operations. The IAF currently operate different types of transport aircraft for different roles. For example:

  • Ilyushin Il-76s known as Gajraj is used for military transport roles such as strategic or heavy lift at all operational levels. At present there are 17 such transport aircrafts. The Government plans to replace them with C-17 Globe master.
  • India has also acquired C-130J for combined Army-Air Force operations. There are currently 6 C-130Js in service.
  • Antonov AN-32 known as Sutlej serves as medium transport aircraft in the IAF. The aircraft is also used in bombing roles and para-dropping operations.
  • Hawker Siddeley HS 748 are used mainly for transport training and communication duties.
  • Dornier Do 228 serves as light transport aircraft in the IAF
  • Boeing 737s and Embraer ECJ-135 Legacy aircrafts are used as VIP Transports.

The IAF operates aircraft for the President of India as well as the Prime Minister of India under Air India One.


An important objective of the IAF is to support ground troops by providing air cover and by transporting men and essential commodities across the battlefield. For this purpose the Air Force maintains a fleet of helicopters including HAL Dhruv, HAL Chetak, HAL Cheetah etc.

HAL Tejas

The Tejas is a multi-role light fighter developed by India. It is a tail-less, compound delta-wing design powered by a single engine. It came out from the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme, which began in the 1980s to replace India’s ageing MiG-21 fighters. Later, the LCA was officially named “Tejas”, meaning “Radiance” by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The Tejas has a pure delta wing configuration, with no tailplanes or foreplanes, and a single dorsal fin. It integrates technologies such as relaxed static stability, fly-by-wire flight control system, multi-mode radar, integrated digital avionics system, composite material structures, and a flat rated engine.

The Tejas is the second supersonic fighter developed indigenously by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) after the HAL Marut. The Indian Air Force (IAF) is reported to have a requirement for 200 single-seat and 20 two-seat conversion trainers, while the Indian Navy may order up to 40 single-seaters to replace its Sea Harrier FRS.51 and Harrier T.60. The Tejas was cleared in January 2011 for use by Indian Air Force pilots. It received the second of three levels of operational clearance on 20 December 2013.