Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter pilots may have outshined their US, British, South Korean and French counterparts in recent air war games, but a CAG report has pointed out that they have to hone their skills despite the constraints of obsolete trainers, dysfunctional simulators and outdated training programmes.
A Comptroller and Auditor General finding, submitted to Lok Sabha this month, has punched holes in the IAF's training of its pilots, citing that it has not formulated any long-term training plan for pilots of fighter and other streams in line with its desired force levels and technological changes.
"The interim training plans for short periods of two years have led to short-sighted decisions impacting quality of pilot training," the CAG performance audit report said.
It said the number of pilots trained in various streams during 2001-06 was much lower than planned targets indicating that either the training targets did not take into account constraints or IAF failed to ensure adequate intake of pilot trainees through an effective recruitment strategy.
The IAF's requirement of trained pilots will substantially increase during 2008-18 to meet expansion needs of the IAF squadrons, and fill up backlog vacancies and also vacancies arising from high attrition rates in recent years.
"IAF has not implemented any effective training strategy for meeting the increased intake requirements by addressing problems related to limitations of air space/runaway occupancy and other infrastructural constraints," the report added.
Noting that the number of pilots failing to complete their training successfully was significantly higher than the assessed average wastage rates in 45 per cent of courses, the report said there was also lack of continuity in the transition of a pilot from initial training to intermediate and advanced stages of training in terms of quality, technology and avionics of the trainer aircraft used.