Indian Air Force: The Maintenance Paradigm

P V Athawale

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The scope of maintenance functions in the Indian Air Force (IAF) is vast. The need for a very specialised professional conduct in each one of these is obvious from the width of deliberations in this book. Further, the reader can appreciate the virtues of an integrated approach to maintenance. The text is, therefore, as relevant to the aircrew as it is to the engineers, technicians and logisticians. The paradigm of maintenance has attained a unique character over the years in the IAF despite legacies from its British genesis. Maintenance philosophies have been adaptively developed to support ever growing air power dimensions and exclusive indigenous requirements. A maintenance engineer in the IAF gets involved with every engineering aspect of planning, design/development, acquisition and projects besides maintenance and logistics support to operations. Unlike most other air forces, the communications and Information Technology (IT) disciplines are also taken on by the maintenance man in the IAF. All activities within the maintenance arena have been dealt with ingeniously in this book. This book reviews diverse fields of engineering activities. Beginning with the need for an organisational fusion, an array of specialised functions has been presented to finally suggest an integrated maintenance approach. Quality discipline and goal alignment are prime factors – emphasis on these runs through all the discussions. Learning from nearly four decades of experience in the Air Force, a few mindsets have been highlighted, with suggestions for a paradigm shift. It is always fascinating to relive memories of leaders who shaped our destiny. These examples have the potential to send a surge of renewed motivation through every air warrior. The chapter on the work force is a tribute to the commitment of airmen and civilians.

This book is a first in many ways. The need for transformational thinking with a systems’ view has been advocated for all actions related to a subject as sedate as maintenance. Contributions from different variables viz. infrastructure, material, technology, processes and people, above all, have to be in sync to produce the desired air power outcome. The objective of this book is not to prescribe a solution but to provoke thinking about new paradigms for improvement.

P V Athawale Pramod Vasant Athawale: Commissioned in the Aeronautical Engineering (Electronics) branch of the IAF, Air Marshal Pramod Vasant Athawale PVSM, AVSM, VSM, retired as Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Maintenance Command on August 31, 2011. An Electrical Engineering graduate from the University of Roorkee and a Computer Science post graduate from IIT, Kharagpur, he is presently a Distinguished Fellow at the Centre for Air Power Studies, New Delhi. He has undertaken diverse and intense assignments and made exemplary multidisciplinary contributions. His wide canvas of work spanning 38 years of service includes fighters, transports, communication systems, aircraft and systems’ testing, defence standardisation, aircrew duties and projects in avionics, ground sensors integration and networking.

He pioneered software initiatives as the first Commandant of the Software Development Institute (SDI) and executed many developmental projects. With equal élan, he carried out the role of Chief Engineering Officer at the largest MiG-21 operating base. He headed Signals and IT at Air HQ before switching to core maintenance functions as head of the Maintenance Command.

 

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