Rafale will power In­dia to fight ‘grave threats’

By ac­quir­ing Rafale, air force would also be able to strengthen its de­plet­ing fleet of fight­ers: IAF chief

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

New Delhi, In­dia - Rafale jets will power the In­dian Air Force (IAF) to fight ‘grave threats’ In­dia faces from Pak­istan and China, Air Chief Mar­shal B S Dhanoa said on Wed­nes­day, strongly bat­ting for the French-made fourth gen­er­a­tion air­craft whose pur­chase has trig­gered al­le­ga­tions of fi­nan­cial ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties.

The IAF chief said that by ac­quir­ing the French fight­ers, the IAF would also be able to strengthen its de­plet­ing fleet of fight­ers at a time when In­dia’s neigh­bours were ‘not sit­ting idle’ and con­tin­u­ously mod­ernising their air war­fare ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

Speak­ing at a sem­i­nar, Air Chief Mar­shal Dhanoa said the Rus­sian-made S-400 Tri­umf ad­vanced air de­fence sys­tems to be bought from Moscow would also en­hance the ca­pa­bil­ity of the air force.

“By pro­vid­ing the Rafale and the S-400 (anti-mis­sile sys­tem), the gov­ern­ment is strength­en­ing the IAF to counter the short­fall of our de­plet­ing num­bers of air­craft,” he said.

“The hi-tech fight­ers like Rafale are needed be­cause medium-tech fight­ers like Te­jas alone can­not do.”

He said the IAF was al­ready down with only 31 squadrons from the sanc­tioned strength of 42. “Even when we do have 42 (squadrons), we will be be­low the combined strength of our two ad­ver­saries,” he said, adding that the gap was be­ing ‘par­tially ful­filled by get­ting the hi-tech air­craft’.

“The ques­tion that is asked very of­ten in pub­lic do­main is why 42 squadrons when older air­craft like MiG-21s are be­ing re­placed by more ca­pa­ble air­craft.”

“There are reasons (for that) be­cause our neigh­bours are not sit­ting idle. Pak­istan has up­graded F-16s and made them 4.5 gen­er­a­tion as far as avionic elec­tron­ics goes and is in­duct­ing JF17 (from China) in large num­bers.”

“China is rapidly re­plac­ing its sec­ond and third gen­er­a­tion fight­ers with fourth gen­er­a­tion fight­ers and is de­vel­op­ing fifth gen­er­a­tion fighter which is likely to be de­ployed very soon.”

He said very few coun­tries were fac­ing chal­lenges like In­dia, which is sur­rounded by ‘two nu­clear-armed neigh­bours’.

“We have to match neigh­bours Pak­istan and China to tackle a two-front war. In­ten­tions of our ad­ver­saries can change overnight. We need to match force level of our ad­ver­saries,” he said.

The IAF chief’s com­ments come a day af­ter for­mer min­is­ters from the rul­ing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Yash­want Sinha and Arun Shourie al­leged Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s ‘per­sonal cul­pa­bil­ity’ in the Rafale deal which they dubbed as the coun­try’s ‘big­gest de­fence scam’.

The pro­cure­ment of 36 Rafale fight­ers from France’s Das­sault Avi­a­tion has come un­der fire from main op­po­si­tion the Congress party, al­leg­ing that the Modi gov­ern­ment had com­pro­mised na­tional se­cu­rity and bought the bombers at a higher price than what the United Pro­gres­sive Al­liance (UPA) gov­ern­ment had ne­go­ti­ated with the French gov­ern­ment.

The pro­cure­ment of 36 Rafale fight­ers has come un­der fire from the main op­po­si­tion party in In­dia

Air Chief Mar­shal B S Dhanoa

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