The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik, on Thursday asserted that the capacity-building plans of the Indian Air Force were aimed at making it one of the most potent forces in the world, and not “adversary-specific.”

Addressing a press conference here ahead of the October 8 Air Force Day, he downplayed the recent projection in the media of China and its military power stating the IAF had based its capacity building on four pillars and requirement in the future.

These were: “See first and see farthest,” followed by “Reach first and reach farthest,” then “Hit hard and accurate, whenever required,” and finally “protect the country’s airspace and assets both in peace and war.”

The IAF modernisation was taking place around these concepts — be it in the form of acquiring fighter jets, transport planes, missiles, and radars, electronic surveillance and warfare.

“We cannot be adversary-specific and decided to develop capability that will be required in future based on these four pillars,” Air Chief Marshal Naik said. The IAF was acquiring two more Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems that would arrive by 2010 end, and the C130J Hercules transport aircraft by 2011.

The mid-air tanker refuel plane was in an advanced stage of procurement, while the IAF was bidding for more land-based Aerostat radars and working to get helicopters for both VVIP travel and medium lift for forces.

As for the Inter-Government Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft being developed jointly with Russia, the Air Chief said the technical requirements had been exchanged. On developing Advanced Landing Grounds (ALGs) in the northeast, he said the IAF planned to upgrade five — Along, Walang, Diphu, Mechuka and Tuting — of these. It had already operationalised three ALGs in Daulat Beg Oldie, Fukche and Nyoma in the Ladakh region along the Sino-Indian border.

The Air Chief said he had appointed a committee to study the problems associated with Hindustan Aeronautics HPT-32 (Hindustan Piston Trainer) planes and come out with solutions.

He conceded that the IAF had been facing problems with the trainer since its induction in 1980s and after the recent crash in which it lost two of its experience pilots, the fleet was grounded.

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