NCW capabilities as a concept are taught to trainees at Training Command: Air Marshal Nair
Bengaluru: The Indian Air Force (IAF) celebrates its 84th anniversary on October 8, having established in the year 1932. In the last eight-plus-decade, IAF extended its reach to some of the most difficult terrains in the world, signalling its supremacy and operational capabilities.
The modernisation process in the last decade alone saw the IAF upgrading its fleet and facilities, including new training standards for the air warriors. Training men to match the needs of modern times has been a challenging task for the IAF over the years.
In an interview to Mathrubhumi’s Talkathon series, Air Marshal S R K Nair, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Headquarters Training Command, gives an insight into some of the thrust areas on focus in the IAF now. It was during his tenure that the Training Command made huge strides in making the classrooms technology-embedded, in addition to giving emphasis on aerospace safety, road safety and IT security.
A native of Thiruvananthapuram, Air Marshal Nair was commissioned into the transport stream of the IAF in June 1980 and he has over 7000 hours of flying experience to his credit.
“Being the gateway to the IAF, the aim of Training Command is to train required number of personnel of the highest quality within the specified time frames, and also to ensure that the skills and knowledge gained are totally responsive to the operational needs of the IAF,” says Air Marshal Nair. Excerpts.
Q: With Network-Centric Warfare (NCW) capabilities being given more thrust in IAF, what are the new philosophies in training that have set in?
A: NCW capabilities as a concept are being introduced to the trainees for ensuring a sound foundation in their operation assignments in future. In addition, training and OJT (on-the-job-training) on various systems, applications and platforms that forms integral part of NCW setup are included in the advance training stages for both officers and airmen. This will expose them to the NCW environment during training stages itself.
To fulfil the responsibility of providing quality air warriors to IAF, we have a three-pronged strategy.
(a) Setting up a high quality training process with a constantly evolving syllabus as per the organisational requirement; (b) producing high-quality of instructors; (c) upgrading the training infrastructure and training systems, to ensure that all trainees go on to become capable air warriors.
Q: With modernisation of IAF on full throttle, what are the areas under your Command that would benefit the most?
A: Today, the Command is responsible for conducting ab-initio training of all officers, airmen and non-combatants (enrolled) of all branches, except officers of medical branch. We also conduct advanced ‘In-Service’ courses which are aimed at updating knowledge as well as produce instructors in the varied disciplines that this Command has to teach. Besides, it is geared up for augmentation of trained manpower to other Commands during hostilities. It is an onerous task due to its enormity, and also an enviable one as it is the alma mater of all IAF personnel.
With a long-term vision for imparting quality training to cater for the technologically advanced aircraft and systems being inducted, we have the following initiatives been taken up by HQTC:
(a) The training pattern in respect of airmen was revised in 2014 to suit the requirement of modern systems and technology while giving emphasis on understanding and use of English language and enhancing military bearing of air warriors.
(b) Modern training aids are provided for giving greater exposure and understanding of equipment at basic level. This would enable trainees to assimilate working principles of various components and equipment.
(c) Technical training has been restructured to lay emphasis on hands-on practice and exposure to metallurgy and manufacturing technique etc. apart from exploiting the modern training aids and techniques for better training and learning.
(d) Digital class rooms are being created with smart rostrum, interactive board, 3D Computer-Based Training packages and multimedia maintenance instructions. This will enable trainees to comprehend the topic well with animations and exploded view, generating interest.
(e) Trainees are exposed to IT and cyber security, Electronic Maintenance Management Systems and Integrated Material Management Online System.
(f) Keeping in tune with the latest technology in the field of IT and networking, an innovative e-training concept has been implemented as a pilot project at AF Station, Jalahalli. Training can now access study material through their tablets. Two-way communication between instructional staff and trainees has been enabled on these tablets. Mobile Device Management software has been pre-installed in these tablets to ensure security of data at all times.
Q: With women being permitted for combat flying, how will it support IAF’s future missions?
A: The IAF is inclusive in all its activities giving equal opportunities to both men and women. Women cadets have been groomed adequately at AFA Hakimpet to face any challenges during their flying missions.
As a fighter pilot your mental make-up matters the most. We told them the sailing will be smooth if you keep the basics right, all the time. There’s no male domination in flying. Everything is based on your skills and orientation.
This is the first time that IAF has inducted women pilots in the fighter stream. Three women pilots are currently undergoing training at AFS Bidar for the Hawk Operational Training Squadron (HOTS) for Stage III (Sem I). Later, they would move to Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) for Stage III (Sem IV) at Kalaikunda for advanced training on Hawk aircraft.
Q: Has the number of foreign nationals getting training under HQTC increased?
A: The IAF undertakes the training of a large number of personnel from various Friendly Foreign Countries (FFCs) in different Training Establishments (TEs). The demand from FFCs is very high. The training slots of FFCs are increasing year by year. In 2012-13 a total of 601 foreign nationals from 20 FFCs had undergone 112 different courses in 34 TEs of the IAF. During the year 2013-14, 615 trainees; 2014-15, 684 trainees and now, in the year 2015-16, 889 slots have been offered to FFCs.
Photo credit: Sharath Pillai/Tarmak007