Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik on Tuesday dismissed reports that the decision of the United States to supply F-16 fighter aircraft to Pakistan could go against its bid to supply 126 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) to India.
``It will be a fair and square assessment. The trials for the MMRCA will conclude by April end and we will take a decision only later. As of now, I do not feel there is any connection (Lockheed Martin selling F16 fighter aircraft to Pakistan)’’, the Air Chief said here.
Mr. Naik said this in an interaction after taking over as the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee from Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor, who is retiring from service on Wednesday. The senior-most among the three Chiefs holds the post of Chairman.
Besides Lockheed Martin, five other companies, Boeing (F-18/A Super Hornet), European Consortium EADS (Typhoon) Swedish SAAB (Grippen), French Dassault (Rafale) and Russian (MiG) are competing for the 10.2 billion contract.
As for the IAF that grounded entire fleet of MiG27 fighter aircraft after a crash last month, the Air Chief said while the trainer versions having different engines were flying, checks are being carried on the engines of fighter aircraft and a decision would be taken on whether these can be flown or not.
Asked whether the IAF plans to contest the Delhi High Court decision on granting permanent commission to women officers, Mr. Naik said the three services were studying the judgment that has both legal and financial implication and a view would be taken in consultation with the Government.
On the issue of creation of the post of a Chief of Defence Staff, he said as a concept he was for such a post. However, he said there were several models available and it is for the country to decide which model suits it the best.
In the meantime, as the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, his priority will be to carry forward the work done by his predecessors and increase jointness among the three services.
To a question whether the recent series of missile tests and the planned exercise by Western Air Command is intended to convey some message, the Air Chief said while these were routine operational tests, ``when we have to give a message we give it loud and clear’’.
Earlier, General Kapoor said the Indian Army was ever alert to incidence of infiltration and that such attempts would continue from across the border. Referring to last week’s incident, he said the troop foiled a major bid by engaging infiltrators and killing eight of them while the rest retreated.