Need to enhance IAF’s capability to take on adversaries: Air Chief

New Delhi, Sep 12: Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa said Wednesday that China was significantly ramping up its air power including deploying fighter jets in Tibet and India must modernise its air force to match the capabilities of its “adversaries”.
India was facing a unique situation of having two nuclear armed neighbours — China and Pakistan — on its borders and the intentions of the adversaries could change overnight, he said.
Delivering a lecture on IAF’s force structure, he said the capability of the force needs to be enhanced in sync with security challenges facing the nation.
“China has approximately 1,700 fighter aircraft of which 800 are fourth generation jets. A large number of these can be expected to be brought against us in the Tibet Autonomous Region in case of hostilities,” he said addressing a seminar.
The IAF chief said though India was facing a grave security threat, its combat squadron has come down to 31 from sanctioned strength of 42 which is a matter of concern. Each fighter squadron has 16-18 aircraft.
“Indian armed forces are operating in a unique environment. Presently, there are very few countries which are facing security challenges as grave as ours,” he said, referring to threats from Pakistan and China.
“India’s neighbours are not sitting idle…. We have a unique situation of having two nuclear armed neighbours on our borders. No other country in the world has this kind of a situation,” he said.
The Air Chief Marshal said China has significantly developed and upgraded infrastructure in Tibet Autonomous Region and that fighter jets and surveillance jets have been permanently stationed in airfields in the area bordering India.
“We have to match the force level of our adversaries so that we can fight simultaneously on two fronts,” he said, referring to possible scenario of engagements with China and Pakistan simultaneously.
He said the IAF must have adequate number of fighter jets to deal with any security challenge.
“What we do not have is the numbers. Against the sanctioned strength of 42 squadron, we are down to 31. Even if we have 42, it will be well below the combined strength of two of our adversaries,” he said.
He said both China and Pakistan were replacing their second and third generation fighter jets with fourth generation aircraft, adding India needs to urgently upgrade its combat squadrons to effectively face any challenge.
“We need the numbers to carry out full spectrum operation… we need a force that can quickly respond, cause devastating damage to the other side and get us peace on our terms,” he said.
Emphasising the need for procurement of advanced aircraft like Rafale, he said, “We cannot have an air force of medium technology platforms. We need to have fighters which will win high end fights. In a conventional warfare winning the air battle is very important. PTI