Saturday 20 December 2014 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

India Marks LOC Peace as New Normal for Dialogue with Pak
Reforms in Jammu and Kashmir
Women Security – The Laws that have Failed to Make a Difference
Terrorism and Law and Order
2nd phase of Pan-African e-Network Project
India Political Scenarios
Aftermath of Execution of Afzal Guru
Indian Navy's Technology Skills Expansion
India Welcomes Maldives New President
Bangladesh Prime Minister Seeks Deterrence Capability
Gilgit and Baltistan: New Profile
India's Strong Pitch for Entry Into Strategic Exports Control Regime
Post London India’s Afghan Policy
Afghanistan: Great People, Not Great Game
India’s Defence Budget 2012-13: A Holistic Analysis
PM's Independence Day 2013 Address – Defence & Security Issues
Over 1,84,000 People Rescued So Far by Armed Forces
Is Indian Political Influence Bringing Stability in South Asia?
Non-Discriminatory Market Access (NDMA), New Norms for Indo Pakistan Trade
Exercise 'GARUDA' ' A New Step in Indo French Air Force Cooperation
India Will Continue To Strengthen Defence Relations With Maldives: Antony
Progress in Look East Policy Highlighted in Parliament
Armed Forces Mobile Oxygen Generation Plant and Medicines Being Transported to Valley
Afghan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement
India’s Unusual Second Warning on Elections in Maldives
Bhutan-India Development Cooperation
India Beefs Up Seychelles Security
Nepal : Violence in Terai
President Mukherjee Pushes for Strong Compliance of Economic Laws
Hamid Karzai: A Statesman is Made
Death of Fahim - Impact on Post Election Political Stability
India - Nepal army Joint Training Exercise
U.S.-Bangladesh Dialogue on Security Issues Concludes
Indo Pakistan Foreign Secretary Talks July 2012
A Stronger Bangla Navy
The kidnapping racket on India Bhutan Border
Naxal Leadership Crisis
Kayani Positive Strokes to Nawaz, Cold Water on India Plans
Unified Commanders Review
President Yameen’s anniversary – The Year in Review
Advisory for Army in J&K by Army Commander
Assam Rifles: Enhancing Capacity
India Cyber Security: Recommendations of Joint Working Group
Protection of Tribals and Villagers from Naxalism
I-Day: Centre alerts NE over terror attacks
Strategic Vision for Strengthening Atomic Energy Coop India and Russia
An Indigenous LCH in the Sky
Bhutan China Boundary Talks Termed Affirmative


Article by Same Author

India China and Lure of the Himalayas
Pakistan: Civil Military Relations A Gathering Storm?
Qualitative Differences In India Russia, Indo US Relations And India China Relations
Bihar: Neglecting Preventive Counter Terror Drills
India Russia Defence Technical Cooperation 2012: A Comprehensive Review
France Emerging as Third Pole In Defence Co-Operation with India
India in SCO
India China Border Stand Off - De-escalate, Delineate and Set Norms
Indigenisation of Capital Acquisitions
Maldives Presidential Elections: Political Instability May Continue
Pak Army Chief: Sharif Makes Safe Choice
Maldives National Defence Forces (MNDF): Crisis Within
India China Fruitful Engagements
India: Avoiding Counter Terrorism Complacency Post Bhatkal and Other Arrests
Armed Forces Modernisation and Upgradation
Pakistan Interior Minister’s Comments Subverts Indo Pakistan Relations
Night of January 16th
Pakistan – A Turbulent Beginning to 2013?
Afghanistan: Afghan Army Emerging From Shadows of NATO?
PM Modis Twitter Diplomacy: The Pluses and Minuses
India’s Counter Naxal Security Strategy
India’s Defence Budget 2014-15: New Acquisitions Challenged
Concerns over Implementation of Offset Policy
Economic Slow Down: India's Defence Modernisation First Casualty
A Threat to Karzai’s Power Base?
Talks With Rebels
India China Relations – Dramatic Turnaround Post Depsang
Bangladesh – Arming Without Aiming?
Civil Military Relations in India: In Times of Change
India’s Defence Budget 2012-13: A Holistic Analysis
2G: Holistic Risk Management by Telecom Companies Lacking
Afghan Strategic Partnership Regional Response
Nawaz continues to dither on top military appointments
Security Imperatives For India’s New Government
Pakistan: The Soft Coup to Constrain Nawaz Sharif
Indo US Defence Cooperation: High Point of Prime Minister’s US Visit
Pakistan Army: Returning to Political Centre Stage?
Reducing Vulnerability of India’s Terror Fault lines
Civil Military Relations in South Asia
India Japan Annual Summit: Defining a New Strategic Axis
Underlying BDCA Message – exercise restraint – Leadership to Military
Counter Militancy: Review of Reconciliation Process in South Asia
Indo US Relations: Main Agenda of Kerry Visit
India’s Disaster Vulnerability and Response
Indo US Defence Relations: More of the Same
BAT Actions on LOC: Tactics with Strategic Impact
Can India Do Without BAE Light Howitzers?
BRICS: Towards Political and Security Muscle?
Taliban Losses, Afghan Gains
Defence Communication Seminar (DEFCOM) 2014 – Future Communications Architecture

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 2014 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.