TEZPUR, Nov 21 – “The Indian Air Force (IAF) today, with a dedicated service to the nation, is a modern technology-intensive force distinguished by its commitment to excellence and professionalism. Keeping pace with the demands of contemporary advancements, the IAF continues to modernise in a phased manner and today it stands as a credible air power counted amongst the fore-most professional services in the world.” This was stated by the Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, Chief of the Air Staff while addressing a press conference at Tezpur Salonibari Air Force Station here today.
Replying to a range of queries, varying from replacement of old weapon systems to the modernisation programme and One Rank One Pension the Chief of the Air Staff further said that the primacy of Air Power will be a decisive factor in shaping the outcome of future conflicts. In line with this dictum, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has developed into a major ‘component of national power’, which can be applied quickly and decisively. The IAF has reoriented itself to a multi-role capability of platforms and equipment, along with multi-skill capability of personnel. The rapid economic growth of the country dictates the need to protect our security interests.
“Over the years the IAF has grown from a tactical force to one with transoceanic reach. The strategic reach emerges from induction of Force Multipliers like Flight Refueling Aircraft (FRA), Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) and credible strategic lift capabilities. There is emphasis on acquiring best of technology through acquisitions or up gradation, be it aircraft, systems, precision missiles or net centricity,” he said adding that IAF has started upgrading its combat aircraft fleet since the last few years in order to enhance its operational capability and maintain its aircraft as modern weapon platforms, capable of meeting the present challenges posed by the security scenario in the country.
Of the available fleet, MiG-21, MiG-27 and Jaguar aircraft have already been upgraded and Mirage-2000 and MiG-29 aircraft are planned for up gradation. The Indian Air Force is considering upgrade of its medium lift helicopters comprising Mi-8, Mi-17 and Mi-17-IVs, as also the AN – 32 transport aircraft, with the aim of improving their overall capability.
When asked on the border issue and international threat the Air Chief said that problems in most of the air bases are not a new thing but the IAF today is in the process of a most comprehensive modernisation plan as part of which the force has inducted aircraft like Su-30 MKI aircraft, the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) and the Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA). There are plans to augment the helicopter and transport fleets too. The IAF is also in the process of acquiring radars in various categories to meet the Air Defense requirements, accurate and advanced weapons, Network
Centric Warfare systems etc, to meet its assigned tasks. He said that IAF is now capable of facing every challenges and added that India will replace ageing combat fleet fighter aircraft ‘Dassult Rafale’ not Euro fighter Typhoon, because the Dassualt Rafael is a L-1 bidder aircraft and the Euro fighter is a L-2 bidder.
Replying to the query on threat to the internal security problem posed because of the various insurgency groups including Maoist, Jehadi and other terrorists in J&K and North Eastern region he added that it is a political problem and should be politically settled.