C-17 Globemaster III cargo jet

India currently has 11 American C-17 Globemaster III cargo jets and 11 C-130J30 Hercules turboprops. They join India’s fleet of approximately 14 Russian IL-76 Candid cargo jets and 100+ Russian/Ukrainian AN-32 Cline turboprops.

Finally, HAL license built 89 British HS-748 turboprops, and some 57 still serve in the IAF, rounding out India’s transport fleets.

So India has quite a large fleet of over 193 medium to large jets and turboprops from the USSR/Russia, US, and UK. India’s transport fleets serve a variety of purposes in the tactical and strategic domains. Below are some examples of IAF use.

The airlift fleets maintain logistic links to far flung Indian bases, some of which may be more that 1000 miles apart, and located at high altitudes and inhospitable terrain. The recently activated Daulat Beg Oldi is one such example, as it is in a remote area, at high altitude, and in harsh, cold terrain. This base helps India keep an all weather eye on Chinese PLAN and PLAAF activities. India’s Special Forces (Spec Ops) are heavily utilizing the C-130J30’s, giving them power projection capabilities and reliable operations that they did not previously possess. Just the enhanced ability to surge highly trained paratroops to threatened areas helps to preserve the peace as likely opponents know that India could rapidly envelop and outflank their forces from the air, so operations that were marginally plausible before are now off the table. So India benefits strategically from the deterrence effect of the airlifters.

The IL-76 Candids serve as heavy transports and as platforms for India’s 7 IL-78 Midas tankers and 3 A-50 AWACS. The IAF has conducted missions with the Candids all the way to the US, during bilateral exercises. This ability to perform intercontinental exercises with distant partners greatly aids the IAF in their professionalism and bridge-building missions, and serves to cement strategic relations. India plans to acquire more Il-76 based AWACS, and has left some room for additional IL-78 Midas tanker purchases as well. The HS-748 fleet is old but still serve a useful function as a pressurized passenger transport and as multi-engine and perhaps navigation trainers. India has a long running program to replace the HS-748’s with the Airbus C-295’s. Time will tell if this comes to fruition.

The newest heavylift arrivals are the 11 C-17 Globemasters. These aircraft have established a sterling reputation and offer the IAF its largest payload capabilities, with a lift capacity of 86 tons, enabling the carriage of the heaviest main battle tanks and similar armored fighting vehicles. The IAF has put them to good use, and they have performed many out of area missions and disaster relief missions already. Originally the IAF wanted 15 of the giant airlifters, but had to stagger purchases as funds were not available to buy them all at once. By the time funds came in the IAF could only buy 11. Even so they are currently the largest operator of the type after the USAF.

So India enjoys a great many benefits, both civil and military, from having a large airlift capability. India’s Boeing C-17 Globemaster fleet, with almost a thousand tons of cargo lifting capacity and intercontinental range, forms a key part of that capability.

Top 10 Indian fighter jets

Su-30 MKI– Highly Modern (4+ gen) Russian Aircraft. Developed version of Su-27 (first russian jet to perform the cobra manoeuvre) which means high agility. It carries One X 30mm GSH gun alongwith 8000 kg external armament. It is capable of carrying a variety of medium-range guided air to air missiles with active or semi-active radar or Infra red homing close range missiles. It has a max speed of 2500 km/hr (Mach 2.35). Capable of launching BrahMos missiles, which gives it a big edge over others in the list.

Dassault Rafale– India Recently bought 36 of these in a bid to modernise the inventory of IAF. A highly capable fighter that has one of the best HUDs in the world, making it pilot friendly. It has a wide variety of weapons it can fire including, but not restricted to Mica, Magic, Sidewinder, ASRAAM and AMRAAM AA missiles; Apache, AS30L, ALARM, HARM, Maverick and PGM100 air-to-ground missiles and Exocet / AM39, Penguin 3 and Harpoon anti-ship missiles.

MiG-29 UPG– This is the upgraded version of one of the most famous Russian Fighters ever created. IAF became the first foreign Air Force to order the MiG-29 in 1986. It is a very agile fighter and is a rugged dogfighter. The digital FBW systems in the UPG has made it “the most advanced version of the MiG-29,till date” according to the Mikoyan Guerevich itself. It is capable of attaining max. speed of 2445 km per hour (Mach-2.3). It has a combat ceiling of 17 km. It carries a 30 mm cannon alongwith four R-60 close combat and two R-27 R medium range radar guided missiles.

Mirage 2000– A single seater air defence and multi-role fighter of French origin powered by a single engine can attain max speed of 2495 km/hr(Mach 2.3). It carries two 30 mm integral cannons and two matra super 530D medium-range and two R-550 magic II close combat missiles on external stations. It was recently significantly upgraded with Thales RDY 2 radar, which allows for very long-range engagement of targets in the air, automatic tracking of targets, mapping of targets on the ground using Doppler beam-sharpening techniques, and the ability to track and engage targets which are moving on the ground. And yes, this jet is our hero from Balakot airstrikes.

HAL Tejas– The one true Indian on the list. The Tejas is designed to carry a veritable plethora of air to air, air to surface, precision guided and standoff weaponry. In the air to air arena, the Tejas carries long range beyond visual range weapons, with highly agile high off-boresight missiles to tackle any close combat threat. A wide variety of air to ground munitions and an extremely accurate navigation and attack system allow it to prosecute surface targets over land or at sea with unparalleled accuracy, giving the Tejas true multi/swing role capability. It will be replacing the ageing MiG-21.

MiG-21 Bison– This is a controversial entry as many people will argue that since it is a platform which is over 60 years of age, it should not be placed above SEPECAT Jaguar and MiG-27. However, the MiG 21 never seems to have aged. It is by far the IAF’s favorite fighter with over 800 of them operated since the 1960s. It is also by far the most experienced veteran having seen many dogfights and CAS ops since 1965, the most recent being the standoff between India and Pakistan in 2019. They have a cult following in India but are deemed to retire by 2021, to be replaced by the Tejas. It has a max speed of 2230 km/hr (Mach 2.1) and carries one 23mm twin barrel cannon with four R-60 close combat missiles.

SEPECAT Jaguar– A twin-engine, single seater deep penetration strike aircraft of Anglo-French origin which has a max. speed of 1350 km /hr (Mach 1.3). It has two 30mm guns and can carry two R-350 Magic CCMs (overwing) alongwith 4750 kg of external stores (bombs/fuel). This aircraft will soon be gone like its Russian cousin by the name of MiG-27. India is the last operator of this jet in the world with France, Britain and Oman having retired it. Indian Jaguars were used to carry out reconnaissance missions in support of the IPKF in Sri Lanka between 1987 and 1990. They later saw an active role in the 1999 Kargil War

Mirage 2000

India’s mirage 2000 is one of the fastest supersonic fighter jets in the world. It is a deep strike fighter aircraft used to break the enemies defense and carry out missions like dropping bombs of precision guided or missiles.

It can act so spontaneous in order to avoid retaliation in very fast . Besides it has the ability to fly at lower altitude in order to avoid radar signature or radar cross section.

The Mirage 2000 has a maximum speed of Mach 2.2 (2336 kmph) and can travel 1550 km with drop tanks. The flight height is capped at 59000 ft (17km). though it is a 4th generation fighter jet India had upgraded this extensively to maintain its capabilities par with the modern fighters.

Besides, mirage 2000 is the best suitable fighter for fitting spice bombs ,and airforce went for it with good confidence, that turned out to be great success. Moreover, it had been used extensively during kargil war striking enemies bunkers at high altitudes.

Fighter jets does India currently have

Currently IAF holds 29 active squadrons

15 squadron su30mki(275)

3 squadron MiG-21 bison(54)

3 squadron mig-29 upg(66)

2 squadron Mirage 2000(45)

6 squadron sepecat Jaguar(118)


Mirage 200

MiG-21 bison

Sepecat Jaguar


17 tejas and 5(2 trainer 3single seater) Rafales are also delivered