Saturday 28 February 2015 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

Indo Japan Relations – Strategic Dialogue Concluded
National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) Foundation Stone Laid
Sri Lanka: India Sri Lanka Relations In Focus
India's efforts to extradite Sri Lankan terror suspect from Malaysia face snag
The Chidambaram Security Architecture
India China Parallel Tracks of Engagement
20th India Russia Inter-Governmental Commission Meeting
External Linkages in the Lime Limelight
Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) Programme
Indo Bangladesh Transshipment Agreement
Indo Pakistan Border and Line of Control
Indo Pakistan Relations in Limbo
Leaked ASEAN chairman’s statement will not be amended
Delhi Police launches ‘Himmat’ mobile apps
“Police Stations should become Temples of Justice,” says Rajnath Singh
Special Training CRPF for Counter Naxal Operations
‘INS Trikand’ Joins Indian Navy's Power Ship
India Reestablishes Relations With Suu Kyi
India: The Regional Shuffle
No Hopes of Breakthrough in Naga Talks
Transcript of Prime Minister’s Interaction with Chinese media organizations
PM awards young innovators in the Indian Army, on the occasion of Army Day
Delhi Police to annually induct 160 youth from NE
Naxalism COBRA Operations
India and Singapore Pledged to Enhance Defence Relationship
India Launches New Generation AGNI 4, Prepares for AGNI 5
India Reaches Out to Iran
Sri Lanka Defense Ministry severely politicized under Rajapaksa regime - Opposition
MH 370 and ISAR 2014 In Kuala Lumpur
Digitisation of Audit : Air Force on Road to E-Governance
Delhi Exhibition Fosters India-Pakistan Trade Ties
Afzal Guru Execution: Perspectives and Trends
Smart Strategy in Zero Sum Game in Afghanistan
India Africa Relations: A Review
India wary of Sri Lanka's Northern Province resolution
No Progress on NCTC But Other Mechanism in Place
India Terror: The Headley Rana Network
Myanmar agrees to joint military exercises, says Thai military source
Prime Minister Modi's SAARC Focus
Connectivity a key to development
Indian ISIS recruit reportedly goes home after having to clean toilets
Indian MEA Downplays Chinese Transgressions
India Continues Attempts to Salvage Maldivian Democracy
India Weighs in on South China Sea Dispute
PM’s address and interaction at Council on Foreign Relations i
The North East – Multi Fanged Militancy
Statement by Foreign Secretary at the meeting with Editors in Dhaka
Structuring Peace Talks in Assam
US Portrays ASEAN Meeting as Setback for China
Bengaluru Gears up to Host Aero-India 2013


Article by Same Author

Challenges to India’s Regional Diplomacy
India’s Defence Budget 2014-15: New Acquisitions Challenged
Myanmar – China Boost Relations
Military and Media Establishing Positive Relations
Aero India 2013 – Fulfilling Larger IAF Mission - I
Pakistan’s National Security Dilemma: Prioritising Internal Security
Indian Army: Officer Men Relations the Missing Links
South Asia 2014: As A Flash Back of 2013
India China Fruitful Engagements
Karzai's India Visit: The Agenda
India Slash In Defence Budget 2012-13?
The World Must Cheer Afghanistan's Football Victory
Trade versus Security – India’s China Dilemma?
Exercise Sarvada Vijay & Azm E Nau A Brief Comparison
Maldives: Early Elections May Diffuse Crisis
Joint Ventures – Entry Route to Indian Defence Industry
Pakistan Army: Returning to Political Centre Stage?
South Asia Political Security Challenges
Mazagon Dock Pipavav: First Defence Joint Venture
Talk Asian Cooperative Security and Not Just Balancing China
Aero India 2015: The Lure for Foreign Companies?
India Launches New Generation AGNI 4, Prepares for AGNI 5
Obama II & Indo US Defence Relations
Can India Do Without BAE Light Howitzers?
Indo US Defence Cooperation: Impetus in Strategic Dialogue
Nawaz Sharif’s China Visit: Comfort Away from Home
Indo US Relations: Main Agenda of Kerry Visit
Pakistan Elections: Rush of the Fortune Seekers
Pak Army Chief: Sharif Makes Safe Choice
Maldives Elections: Updated
India in Maldives: Big Brother Must Deliver
Pakistan : Winds of Political Change?
2G: Holistic Risk Management by Telecom Companies Lacking
India in a Spot in Bangladesh
Pakistan Prime Minister’s Ajmer Visit – A Review
Daw Aung Suu Kyi: The Liberal Pragmatic
China India Dance in South Asia
Concerns over Implementation of Offset Policy
Pentagon 2012 Report on China: PLA’s Rapid Modernisation
Legacy of Kayani Era: First Impressions?
Pakistan Elections & Indo Pakistan Relations
PM Modis Twitter Diplomacy: The Pluses and Minuses
Taliban Losses, Afghan Gains
Are India’s Security Forces Prepared for 2014?
Manmohan Visit to Washington: Rejuvenating Indo US Relations
India’s Defence Budget 2012-13: A Holistic Analysis
Is Indian Political Influence Bringing Stability in South Asia?
Chicago Summit, NATO & India: Lost Opportunity
France Emerging as Third Pole In Defence Co-Operation with India
Civil Military Relations in India: In Times of Change

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 2015 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.