In a world of transformative military technology, the world’s fourth largest air force has its eyes set on riding high on the crest of cutting-edge scientific knowledge, research and development. And to realise that, it has appointed ‘innovation managers’.
Addressing the media during the customary press meet on Tuesday, a few days before the Air Force Day on October 8, Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari said: “To encourage innovation within the service, we have introduced the concept of Innovation Managers who have been identified and selected based on their capabilities and are being provided additional training at a premier business school in the field of innovation.”
“Officers finally designated and posted as Innovation Managers will have the opportunity to steer IAF’s innovation initiatives in design and development and become IAF’s interface with R and D centres, start-ups and MSMEs,” he added.
These IAF officials will be focused on making scientific breakthroughs that will convert into battlefield capabilities to fight the wars of the future.
Interestingly, as innovation managers lead the way into the future, on the Air Force Day on October 8, the MiG-21, among the IAF’s most archaic platforms, will also make its final fly-past—signaling the end of an epoch.
The setting for the fly-past at Prayagraj would be as fitting—the confluence of the Ganga and Yamuna rivers aside a 16th century fort.
First inducted in 1963, the versatile Russian origin fighter has served as the traditional work horse of IAF’s fighting fleet for a much long time, though it has a battered record. At least 294 of the IAF’s total of 946 MiG-21s have crashed, working out to more than 31 per cent—an unacceptably high rate.
More than 200 IAF pilots, besides civilians, are understood to have lost their lives in these crashes.
While the first lot of MiG 21s was bought off the shelf from Russia, more than half of them were later license-produced in India.
The MiG 21’s worst year during its service would be in 1999 when 16 crashed during the course of the Kargil war. Before Kargil, the 1971 war for the Liberation of Bangladesh from Pakistan saw 11 MiG 21 crashes.