India needs to boost capabilities to deal with future security challenges: IAF Chief

New Delhi, Aug 10 (PTI) A full-fledged conventional conflict with the Northern adversary is not possible but still India needs to boost capabilities and enhance its overall strength, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria said on Tuesday, referring to China.

In an interactive session at a leading think-tank, he also said that China has significantly strengthened infrastructure in the Tibet region but suggested that dominance in the air is independent of such measures.

The Chinese side has not withdrawn elements like surface-to-air missiles and radars from the region though some frontline aircraft may have been pulled back, he said replying to a question on the ground situation following disengagement of troops from certain areas.

The Chief of Air Staff said the Indian Air Force has been monitoring the developments of the Chinese side and was in a better position now to deal with any challenge.

Referring to future security challenges, he said India needs to build on its capabilities.

“A full-fledged conventional conflict with the Northern adversary, to my mind, is not possible. It’s not possible today. It’s not possible… It’s something that we should not get for the future,” he said at the United Service Institution of India (USI).

“But should we not build for the conventional conflict? No, do not be mistaken. We need to build for conventional conflict. But, we need to build for an appropriate level and depth of conventional conflict and have capabilities accordingly built,” the IAF chief said.

“Have capabilities, robust capabilities accordingly built so that we are able to not only deter but should it be required we hold our own. From that perspective, I think it is important to look at the areas we want to work on,” he added.

He was largely talking about India’s possible security challenges and how they should be dealt with, adding the abilities and capabilities that should work during both peacetime and in case of war.

In that context, Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria said India must have strong capabilities to deal with possible challenges from Pakistan as well.

“On the Western front, what is important to us? Territory of course is sacrosanct. But what is important? We will not accept any Subcon (sub-conventional conflict). Then we should have strong capability. And should it be a war, outright victory against the western adversary? It should be a given.”

He said cyberspace is set to emerge as the next sub-conventional domain and there was a need to have strong capabilities to track and trace any possible attacks on the country’s assets.

The Chief of Air Staff suggested that an option must be kept open to consider any possible attack on the cyber domain as an “act of war” depending on its intensity and gravity.

He said if India needs to focus on dealing with “non-state actors” along the Western front, it may require to handle challenges in cyberspace from the Northern side.