IAF preparedness for “short, sharp wars”
According to reports from New Delhi, “Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa has directed that the Indian Air Force commanders be prepared for short duration but intense wars of 10 days in case of Pakistan and 15 days with respect to China and also to maintain razor- sharp operational preparedness and enhanced combat effectiveness.” This was reportedly the key direction during the IAF Commanders’ Conference held in New Delhi during 19- 21 April 2017. Accordingly, the Directorate of Air Staff Inspection (DASI) will ascertain preparedness of all operational units to keep personnel and aircraft combat-ready with stocked-up weapons, missiles and alive radar systems. Besides the essential IAF role of air defence and dominance, counter-air, strategic-air (including space) and counter- surface operations that form the elements of its air strategy, combat-enabling operations form the fourth pillar of air power.
“Aviation and Air Defence as priority”: COAS
Army Chief General Bipin Rawat has listed aviation and air defence as “high priority” for its modernisation plans. He was speaking at the biannual Army Commanders’ Conference in New Delhi in April 2017. The Army requires 259 light utility helicopters to replace the obsolescent Cheetah/Chetak fleet of helicopters based on the 1950s-design Alouette III and Lama and has also projected requirements for 114 HAL light combat helicopters. As for air defence, the Army requires a three-tiered system, comprising the indigenous Akash SAM with a range of 25 km, the Israeli Spyder as the ‘low-level, quick reaction missile’ to neutralise hostile incoming targets up to 15 km away and air defence guns for close-in air defence, to within 4 km.
“Navy shortfalls will be tackled soon”: Arun Jaitley
Addressing the Naval Commanders’ Conference, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley has assured the Navy that “the government will increase resources to make good its shortfalls soon with due impetus, through appropriate defence procurement policies such as strategic partnership model which would be finalised soon.” Specific reference was made to the critical pending requirement for multi-role helicopters (MRH), conventional submarines and mine counter measure vessels (MCMVs).
“Defence manufacturing policy soon”
The government is at “advanced stages” of formulating a new policy to increase domestic defence manufacturing and so reduce dependence on imported hightech system. This was stated by Finance and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley on 28 April 2017: “India is the world’s largest arms importer, spending some 1.8 per cent of its GDP (gross domestic product) on defence. It imports about 70 per cent of defence equipment, a proposition which the government wants to change,” Jaitley said at an event organised by the industry body CII. “We are in the advanced stages of formulating a policy where we can ensure that instead of just being buyers, on the strength of technological and other tieups, India also becomes a manufacturing economy.” The government has reportedly projected the need to spend $250 billion on weapons and military equipment over the next ten years.