IAF is 83, and go­ing strong


The In­dian Air Force (IAF), the youngest wing of the In­dian armed forces, is cel­e­brat­ing its 83rd an­niver­sary and SP’s M.A.I. takes enor­mous pride in ac­knowl­edg­ing the ef­forts of this young force. The IAF has shown tremen­dous val­our and courage in war zones and in the same breadth its hu­man­i­tar­ian side while con­duct­ing re­lief oper­a­tions dur­ing nat­u­ral dis­as­ters, the re­cent one be­ing in Nepal where the men in blue showed ut­most pro­fes­sion­al­ism, ca­ma­raderie and hu­mane­ness. Their ef­forts have come in for a lot of praise and one such is by the Span­ish Am­bas­sador in In­dia (his in­ter­view is in SP’s Avi­a­tion).

As the IAF cel­e­brates the mo­men­tous oc­ca­sion, we have in­ter­acted with the Chief of the Air Staff, who also hap­pens to be the Chair­man, Chiefs of the Staff Com­mit­tee, Air Chief Mar­shal, Arup Raha. The Chief of the Air Staff has dis­tinctly spelled out the role and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of the IAF and that is to re­main a mod­ern, flex­i­ble and pro­fes­sional aerospace power with full spec­trum ca­pa­bil­ity to pro­tect and fur­ther na­tional in­ter­ests and ob­jec­tives. It is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the IAF to of­fer sov­er­eign op­tions to the po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship and it en­deav­ours to be the first re­spon­der to con­tin­gen­cies. The ac­qui­si­tion of mod­ern tech­nol­ogy weapons and plat­forms, he states, has greatly en­hanced In­dia’s all-weather op­er­a­tional ca­pa­bil­ity, be­sides en­hanc­ing its strate­gic reach.

While the IAF’s ef­forts of mod­erni­sa­tion and in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment is in sync with its en­deav­our to re­tain a ‘com­bat and ca­pa­bil­ity edge’, the coun­try’s top­most lead­er­ship has shown that much more un­der­stand­ing of the needs of the armed forces.

The po­lit­i­cal states­man­ship of the Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi is well known. His un­der­stand­ing of the de­fence needs of the coun­try is praise­wor­thy. Some of the deals which were drag­ging on dur­ing the pre­vi­ous regime have been cleared by him, re­flect­ing the ur­gency with which he is ad­dress­ing de­fence ac­qui­si­tion is­sues. The latest is the ac­qui­si­tion of Amer­i­can he­li­copters – Apache and Chi­nook – the deals worth over $3 bil­lion.

Even as the deal was be­ing signed in New Delhi, the Prime Min­is­ter was in the US ex­tend­ing the part­ner­ship with the most pow­er­ful coun­try on earth. The di­a­logues be­tween the two great democ­ra­cies are bond­ing them both strate­gi­cally and eco­nom­i­cally. Eco­nomic and de­fence trade is at the crux of this re­la­tion­ship and the bi­lat­eral trade be­tween the two has touched $100 bil­lion and by 2030 it is ex­pected to cross the $1 tril­lion mark. In Modi, In­dia has found one of the best of am­bas­sadors of the coun­try and this is ex­pected to pay huge div­i­dends with gov­ern­ments and multi­na­tional cor­po­ra­tions look­ing afresh at In­dia’s jour­ney on a new path of re­forms.

In this is­sue, we have frank and forth­right views by Lt Gen­eral P.C. Ka­toch (Retd) who ques­tions the de­ci­sion of the Min­istry of De­fence of shift­ing the venue of the bian­nual De­f­expo from New Delhi to Goa, the home-state of the De­fence Min­is­ter Manohar Par­rikar. The world over such ex­po­si­tions are held in the na­tional cap­i­tal and at the same venue for years due to var­i­ous ad­van­tages. Some­where, we seem to be los­ing the con­cept, hence the stature of the event.

Happy read­ing!

Jayant Baran­wal Pub­lisher & Editor-in-Chief

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