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.
Jayant Baranwal Publisher & Editor-in-Chief