Saturday 10 December 2016 Home | Sitemap | Contact Us

  Research Papers  |  Books  |  Items
Security Trends South Asia » India Defence » Indian Air Force: Wither Offensive Air Support in 1962
Rahul Bhonsle

Oct 6, 2012

Print Bookmark Email

Indian Air Force: Wither Offensive Air Support in 1962

The 1962 War with China saw the proud record of the Indian Armed Forces which had participated in the First and the Second World Wars sullied at the hands of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Amongst the many lessons learnt from the War was the non use of offensive air power by the Indian side. This has remained one of the enigmas of 1962 which has been debated across the board. On the 80th Anniversary of the Indian Air Force (IAF) controversy over India abdicating the use of offensive air power in 1962 India China War has again cropped up.

The IAF Chief, Air Chief Marshal Norman Browne in the traditional pre IAF Day media conference remarked that the IAF was not allowed to be used in an offensive role and was restricted to only the transport role. "If offensive airpower had been used in 1962, the outcome would have been very would have changed the course of the war," said Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne. He indicated that there would be no such limitations in a future war scenario. Browne stated,   “These are open and glaring lessons [of non use of the IAF in 1962 operations] we should have imbibed,” he added. “I can assure you there will be no such limitation. The IAF will play a leading role in not just against that or any other sector but anywhere whenever the need arises.”

The Indian Air Force official web page highlights the restricted transport role in 1962 thus, “During the period 20 October to 20 November, pressure on the Service's transport and helicopter units were intense, troops and supplies having to be flown to the support of the border posts virtually around the clock and at extreme altitudes. The helicopters had to constantly run the gauntlet of Chinese small arms and anti-aircraft fire, while operating on the tricky helipads in the mountains. Many notable feats were performed by the IAF during this conflict, including the operation of C-119Gs from airstrips 17,000 ft (5180m) above sea level in the Karakoram Himalayas, and the air-lifting by An-12Bs of two troops of AMX-13 light tanks to Chushul, in Ladakh, where the small airstrip was 15,000 ft (4570m) above sea level”.

Analysts as Group Captain (in 2003) R. Sukumaran of the Indian Air Force writing in the July 2003 issue of Strategic Analysis, a Journal published by the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, a government funded think tank in New Delhi cite mainly three reasons for the same. An over assessment of potential of the PLA Air Force by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) led the political leadership to play safe and avoid retaliation which would have exposed Indian populated centres in the plains to strikes by the Chinese aircraft. The US Ambassador Mr John Kenneth Galbraith was reported to have prevailed on the political leadership not to use the Air Force to prevent escalation while finally it is said that the Air Force itself was hesitant due to difficulties in providing close air support to troops in the jungle terrain in NEFA without ground to air communications.  

What ever it be hindsight reveals that this decision possibly could be one of the key factors which led to the debacle of sorts. In 1962, PLA Air Force (PLAAF) did not have the capability to operate from airfields in Tibet, nor could it have undertaken operations from the Chinese Mainland. That the IB did not take any inputs from the IAF was very obvious for use of offensive air support by the Indian side would have greatly assisted overcoming the asymmetry in terms of fire power that existed on the ground. For instance the 7 Infantry Brigade which disintegrated in the battle had only two 75 mm artillery pieces to support it. While the IAF may have had some hesitation in providing close support it could have carried out interdiction of Chinese forces exposed in the build up at various stages on the Tibetan Plateau.
Indian Army planners including Lt General SPP Thorat GOC in C Eastern Command in 1960 and Maj. Gen. D. K. Palit, the Director, Military Operations (DMO) had very clearly outlined that offensive air support was a feasible option. But the Army leadership was unable to convince the political hierarchy and even the IAF of the necessity for offensive air support.

Today while the IAF chief is confident that the situation has changed and no such restriction will be binding, the PLAAF has considerably enhanced potential. Thus the threat of launching air operations on city centers in India may be real. IAF on the other hand may have no counter value targets in Tibet.

However on the whole in many ways 1962 operations could also be seen as a turning point of sorts for the IAF as the IAF web site states that an, “ambitious expansion to a 45-squadron force which was sanctioned by the Government in October 1962, this calling for the raising of IAF personnel strength to some 100,000 by the early seventies”. The combat squadron strength of the IAF has however never reached the figure of 45, today it remains at 34 squadrons.

Related Tags


Related Article

Purchase of Apache Helicopters
Benefits from MTCR for Space Programme
India and Germany sign MoU on Security Cooperation
Government is Taking all Steps to Create Matching Infrastructure on Our Side: Arun Jaitley
Self Reliance in Defence Production
Political Transition – the Final Steps?
State visit of President of Mozambique to India
India's Multi-Stakeholder approach to Internet Governance
Why Shiite Expansion Will Be Short-Lived
India Sri Lanka Naval Coooperation
Home Minister’s Plain Speak on State of Naxalism
Indo-Australian Bilateral Co-operation in the field of security
The Obama Strategy
No fall back for disaster of this magnitude: President Yameen
Space Program of India Vis-A-Vis China
Gorshkov Delay Reasons and Implications
Visit of Shri Manohar Parrikar to Vietnam from June 05 to 07
A Red Letter Day for India’s Defence Indigenisation
Indo - French Naval Exercise Varuna 2015 Concludes
Indian fishermen indulge in illegal acts in Sri Lankan waters, Indian Coast Guard says
Address by the President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee at the banquet hosted in his honour by the Chief of Naval Staff
GMR Wins Arbitration Case in Maldives
World Navies United through Ocean During IFR 2016
The Green Hunt Offensive Begins
India to accede to the Ashgabat Agreement
Indo US Counter Terrorism Cooperation: Finally Taking Off?
The Root Causes versus Policing Debate
Back Channel Talks between Washington and Tehran
New Night Vision Technology for Army Tanks
SAARC Regional Workshop on Sharing Best Practices on
Why Modi Visit to Nepal Curtailed?
400 crimes committed by NSCN-IM, says Deputy CM Gaikhangam
Maritime Security Route to Defence Cooperation in South East Asia
India- Iran Relations and the IAEA Vote
Status Paper Naxalism 2006
Indian Business Delegation in Myanmar
India's UN Security Council Hopes Suffer First Challenge
Mormugao - Second Ship of Project 15b Launched at Mazagaon Docks Mumbai
India-Pakistan joint statement shows signs of positive movement: Rajnath Singh
Joint Statement on the Fifth India-U.S. Strategic Dialogue
Bhutan: Blasts and Earthquake Vulnerabilities
A Net Assessment of the Middle East
Right of Reply to India on Pak Statement in UNHRC
Sri Lanka commitment to combat maritime piracy and armed robbery
Indian Joint Operation for Malaysian Airlines
India: The Regional Shuffle
Indian PM’s call to Dr. Abdullah, President Message to Ahmadzai
President Ashraf Ghani calls on President Mukherjee
Leader of a New Era


Article by Same Author

Nuclear Suppliers Group Need for Enlightened Consensus on India
US Strengthening Security Partnership With Bangladesh
Indo Bangladesh Relations
India Cyber Security: Need for Robust Approach
Pakistan’s Kamikaze Kashmir Policy Exposes Lives of Innocent Kashmiris to Risk
Pakistan: Civil Military Relations A Gathering Storm?
Is India’s Defence Acquisition Process Maturing?
Aero India 2013 – Fulfilling Larger IAF Mission - I
Maldives Presidential Elections: Political Instability May Continue
Armed Forces Modernisation and Upgradation
India’s Defence Procurement Procedure: Missing the Wood for the Trees
Modi Defence and Security Policies – Exploiting the “Triple Whammy”
India Pakistan Relations: Unrealistic Expectations
India’s Defence Budget 2014-15 – Expect a 15 - 20 percent Hike
Manmohan Visit to Washington: Rejuvenating Indo US Relations
Joint Ventures – Entry Route to Indian Defence Industry
Pakistan Army: Returning to Political Centre Stage?
Pakistan : Winds of Political Change?
Terrorism in India: Demand and Supply Dynamics
Trends in Operations in Afghanistan in 2012
Bhutan China Relations and India
Kashmir: Political Engagement and Counter-Narrative - The Way Ahead
Counter Militancy: Review of Reconciliation Process in South Asia
Pakistan Exercise Azm-e-Nau 4: Checkmating India’s Cold Start?
Surgical Strikes: A Week After - Options for India
Pak Army Chief: Sharif Makes Safe Choice
PM Modi visit to Vikramaditya: Signaling Hard Power
Is India Talking to the Wrong Sharif in Pakistan?
Army Command Exit Model: Stepping Back to Step Forward -The Way Ahead
Chabahar Trilateral Agreement: Securing The Strategic Linkages
Maldives & GMR: Small Fish in a Big Pond
Afghan Army – Heavy Casualties Due to Faulty Deployment
Nawaz Sharif’s China Visit: Comfort Away from Home
Nawaz Sharif’s “Military”, Coup, “Soft,” General Bajwa?
To Avoid Flip Flops Inject Transparency in India’s Pak Policy
Pak Elections – Economy, India Pak Relations, Provinces and the Army
India’s Defence Budget 2014-15: New Acquisitions Challenged
Lesson from Kashmir 2014 Elections
Are India’s Security Forces Prepared for 2014?
Exercise Sarvada Vijay & Azm E Nau A Brief Comparison
Proactive Prevention of Corruption to Energize Defence Acquisitions
Pakistan Elections & Indo Pakistan Relations
Scorpene Leak: Perils of Cavalier Approach to National Security
Bihar: Neglecting Preventive Counter Terror Drills
Priotise Decapacitation of Lashkar E Islam in Kashmir
Civil Military Relations in India: In Times of Change
India-Pak: First Signs of A Meet in New York
US Defence Secretary Carter Visit: A Test of India’s Multi-Alignment Foreign Policy
Boeing’s First India Defence Contract Challenge
Economic Slow Down: India's Defence Modernisation First Casualty

Y! MyWeb

Home | Security Trends South Asia | Security Issues South Asia | Top Stories | Publication  | Events | About Us | Contact Us | Disclaimer  | Privacy Policy
© Copyright of Security-risks 2016 All Rights Reserved Web Design India Internet
In case you come across any suspicious activity, any suspicious movement or have any information to tell to the Anti-Terror Squad, please take a note of the new ALL INDIA TOLL-FREE Terror Help-line "1090". Your city's Police or Anti-Terror squad will take action as quickly as possible. Remember that this single number 1090 is valid all over India. This is a toll free number and can be dialled from mobile phones also. Moreover, the identity of the caller will be kept a secret.

Please try to make aware each and every citizen of India about this facility.

BC is the westernmost of Canada's provinces and is famed for its natural beauty.Vancouver is BC's largest city.