Indian Air force currently operates 6 types of fighter jets and solo fighter bomber type. They are divided between 33 squadrons with 2 more to come. 

Lets understand each fighter jet  and squadron strength.

1- Mig 21: The oldest in the fleet, this aircraft has served IAF for more than a half-century and still continues to contribute to the rich history of IAF. From shooting down F-86 Sabre, F-104 Starfighter in 1971 to bringing down  Breguet Atlantic in 1999 to the recent shooting down of F-16D of PAF on 27th Feb 2019, Mig 21 has come a long way. These heavily upgraded Interceptors known as Bisons are divided into 7 squadrons and will still serve a couple of years in IAF. Let’s have a quick overview of each squadron:

(i) Squdron no. 3 Cobras – based at Pathankot Air Force Station

(ii) Squadron no. 4 Oorials – based at Uttarlai Air Force Station

(iii) Squadron no. 21 Ankush – based at Sirsa Air Force Station

(iv) Squadron no. 23 Panthers – based at Suratgarh Air Force Station

(v) Squadron no. 26 Warriors – based at Pathankot Air Force Station

(vi) Squadron no. 32 Thunderbirds  – based at Jodhpur Air Force Station

(vii) Squadron no. 51 Sword Arms – based at Srinagar Air Force Station

2- Jaguar: Indian Air Force remains the sole operator of twin-engine Jaguar fighter-bombers. These aircraft were produced as late as 2009 by HAL. Although highly upgraded and now feature EL/M 2052 AESA radar in the latest Darin III upgrade, they desperately need a new engine. Let’s see if the HTFE-25 reheat version will come on time to power the Jaguar or not, after all, Jaguars are an important part of India’s nuclear triad. here is the list of all Jaguar squadrons currently in service:

(i) Squadron no. 5 Tuskers – based at Ambala Air Force Station

(ii) Squadron no. 6 Dragons – based at Jamnagar Air Force Station

(iii) Squadron no. 14 Bulls – based at Ambala Air Force Station

(iv) Squadron no. 16 Black Cobras – based at Gorakhpur Air Force Station

(v) Squadron no. 27  Flaming Arrows – based at Gorakhpur Air Force Station

(vi) Squadron no. 224 Warlords – based at Jamnagar Air Force Station

3- Mig 29 UPG: The legendary fighter perform the air superiority role for Indian Air force. These are upgraded to latest UPG standard and feature powerful Zhuk-ME PESA radar and D-29 EW suite including a digital RWR. Mig 29s are popular for getting locks on PAF F-16 multiple times during Kargil war. Indian Air  Force operate 3 Squadrons of Mig 29UPG:

(i) Squadron no. 28 First Supersonics-  based at Jamnagar Air Force Station

(ii) Squadron no. 47 Black Archers – based at Adampur Air Force Station

(iii) Squadron no. 223 Tridents – based at Adampur Air Force Station

4- Mirage 2000I: Arguably the favorite aircraft of IAF, Mirage 2000I in Indian service are upgraded to latest Mirage 2000-5 mk2 standards. Mirage 2000 have always been preferred choice of IAF when it comes to ground strike missions. Be it Kargil or Balakot, Mirage has always come out in flying colors. Fear of Mirage in enemies is such that, 2 Mirages flying over Northern Kashmir kept 4 PAF JF-17 at bay, who preferred to stay out of range of IAF Mirage 2000 rather than engaging them. IAF operates 3 squadrons of Mirage 2000:

(i) Squadron no. 1 The Tigers – based at Maharajpur Air Force Station

(ii) Squadron no. 7 Battle Axes – based at Maharajpur Air Force Station

(iii) Squadron no. 9 Wolfpack – based at Maharajpur Air Force Station

5- Sukhoi 30 MKI: The backbone of IAF, Su-30MKI forms the bulk of IAF squadrons. An air superiority fighter with multirole capability comes with a very powerful N011M BARS hybrid PESA radars and OLS 30 IRST. Su-30MKI were escorts to Mirage 2000 which bombed terrorist facility in Balakot, and also probably the only aircraft in the world to evade 5-6 AIM-120 fired at it. IAF operates 12 Su-30MKI squadrons with atleast another squadron strength aircrafts being used by Tactical and Air Combat Development Establishment(TACDE):

(i) Squadron no. 2 Winged Arrows – based at Tezpur Air Force Station

(ii) Squadron no. 8 Eight Pursoots – based at Bareilly Air Force Station

(iii) Squadron no. 15 Flying Lancers – based at Sirsa Air Force Station

(iv) Squadron no. 20 Lightnings – based at Lohegaon Air Force Station

(v) Squadron no. 24 Hawks – based at Bareilly Air Force Station

(vi) Squadron no. 30 Rhinos – based at Lohegaon Air Force Station

(vii) Squadron no. 31 Lions – based at Jodhpur Air Force Station

(viii) Squadron no. 102 Trisonics -based at Chabua Air Force Station

(ix) Squadron no. 106 Lynxes – based at Tezpur Air Force Station

(x) Squadron no. 220 Desert Tigers – based at Halwara Air Force Station

(xi) Squadron no. 221 Valiants – based at Halwara Air Force Station

(xii) Squadron no. 222 Tigersharks – based at Thanjavur Air Force Station

6- HAL Tejas MK1: The desi bird and pride of all Indians, HAL Tejas has seen slow inductions, both on part of delays by HAL and frequent requirement changes by IAF. The aircraft comes with extremely reliable and  comfortable fly by wire system, which all pilots have praised with a quote, ‘pleasure to fly’. Tejas is currently being integrated with Astra MK1 and will become 2nd IAF jet to carry indigenous missile after Su-30MKI. With low RCS and long range missile like Astra mk1 and I-Derby ER, Tejas will be a merciless foe.  IAF has inducted 1 squadron of  Tejas  and is in process of inducting the second one, while deal for 4 more squadrons of mk1A variant is expected to be signed by end of this month i.e. dec 2020:

(i) Squadron no. 45 Flying Daggers – based at Sulur Air Force Station

(ii) Squadron no. 18 Flying Bullets – based at Sulur Air Force Station

7- Rafale F3R: The latest addition to Indian Air Force, Rafale is considered to be the true Omni-role fighter jet. Armed with Meteor BVR missiles, Rafale features an AESA radar i.e. RBE2AA, and a very powerfull Spectra EW suite. The Rafale has a very low RCS along with ability to supercruise. Indian rafales are hard wired for nuclear delivery roles too.  IAF as of now has ordered 36 aircrafts divided into 2 squadrons :

(i) Squadron no. 17 Golden Arrows – based at Ambala Air Force Station

(ii) Squadron no. 101 Falcons – will be based at Hasimara Air Force Station

Kunal Varshney

Defense Observer

By Alpha Defense

Alpha Defense initially a solo venture but now a defense group by people from various demographics of India covering defense news and updates. We believe in unbiased analysis of every subject in hand. Our mission is to provide simplfiied defense information to the public.

9 thoughts on “Know Your Air Force: IAF Fighter Jet Squadrons”
  1. Now getting confused, IAF has got a base on Mohanbari, Dibrugarh Assam

    I have personally seen, Sukhoi’s taking off from there, and recently saw a Chinook as well….! Is that a secret kind off a thing or you guys just missed it?

    1. Detachments as well as rotational deployment…home base dont mean thats the only base from where aircraft will fly…Air force operate from almost all bases for training and familiarity purpose…

  2. One question, Why they did not prefer to make perfect combinations of different aircrafts in Squadrons? Like some Rafael, some Sukhoi, Jaguar in one squadron.

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