The Indian Air Force is facing a shortage of 405 pilots against the authorised strength, the government told Lok Sabha, earlier this week.
This information was shared by the Minister of State for Defence, Shripad Naik. The Minister said the number of pilots in the Indian Air Force at present stood at 3,834 as against the sanctioned strength of 4,239.
“There is a shortage of 405 pilots (as on March 1) in the IAF,” he said, replying to a question. Mr. Naik informed that 260 aircraft were currently being used for training pilots in the Indian Air Force (IAF).
The trainer aircraft in the IAF included Pilatus PC-7 Mk-II, Kiran MkI/IA and Hawk Mk-132 advanced jet trainer.
To a separate question on whether India can counter China effectively with hypersonic vehicles, the minister declined to answer saying the information sought is highly sensitive and classified.
“The information sought is highly sensitive and classified and cannot be divulged on the floor of the House,” he said in his written reply.
Replying to another question, Mr. Naik said 1,98,881 dwelling units were planned for construction through the Married Accommodation Project route and 57,875 units were already built under phase one of the project.
He said 69,904 units were planned to be built under phase two of the project out of which construction of 58,062 units was completed.
Mr. Naik said there was a plan to construct 71,102 units under phase three of the project but an in-principle decision has been taken to construct further married accommodation through the Annual Major Works Programme route.
Indian Pilots Complete Space Training
Meanwhile Moneycontrol reported that four Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots, training to become astronauts for India’s space orbital mission Gaganyaan, have completed their year-long course in Zvyozdny Gorodok city near Moscow, Russia.
The pilots include a Group Captain and three Wing Commanders, sources within the IAF told ANI.
Russia publication Sputnik, quoted Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian state space corporation, saying that he met the astronauts who completed their training and that future bilateral space projects were also discussed with the Indian ambassador.
A contract to train the four pilots was signed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Russian launch service provider Glavcosmos in June 2019 and the training period began in February 2020. It was, however, temporarily halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it added.
Besides the year-long training in Russia, the astronauts will also receive module-specific training in India, ISRO officials had told ANI. These would include ISRO’s crew and service module – which they will learn to operate, workaround, and do simulations for.
The Centre has sanctioned Rs. 10,000 crore for Gaganyaan. Earlier in March 2021, Union Atomic Energy and Space Minister Jitendra Singh also spoke about Gaganyaan and how it envisages sending humans into space.
In reply to a question in Rajya Sabha, Mr. Singh said: “The objective of programme is to demonstrate the capability to send humans to Low earth orbit (LEO) onboard an Indian Launch vehicle and bring them back to earth safely.”