Accretion through new acquisitions, replacement of obsolete equipment with state-of-the-art inductions and upgrade of vintage weapon platforms would bolster the capabilities of the Indian Air Force (IAF), Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha said here on Tuesday.

He was addressing the force soon after taking over as the 24th Chief of the Air Staff from N.A.K. Browne at Vayu Bhawan. “IAF is on a trajectory of modernisation and is transforming into a strategic aerospace power with full spectrum capability,” he said.

The new Air chief who is an experienced Qualified Flying Instructor (QFI) holding ‘A2’ instructional category and had been commissioned into the Flying Branch in December 1974, also called upon “all air warriors to maintain high operational status of the legacy equipment, while operationalising the new inductions in a time-bound manner.”

Air Chief Marshal Raha said in-depth knowledge, proficiency and professional competence to harness the potential of new equipment would provide the necessary cutting edge in discharging the onerous tasks before the IAF.

He was all praise for the manner in which the force had displayed exceptional dedication and commitment during ‘Op Rahat’ in Uttarakhand, rescuing thousands of people and saving precious lives. “A record 3,702 sorties were flown while 24,260 people were airlifted to safety, despite the challenges imposed by inclement weather, difficult terrain, high altitude and unprepared helipads.”

Stating that “high operational preparedness and successful conduct of various exercises in India and abroad have reinforced our (IAF’s) professional reputation as a formidable force,” Mr. Raha called upon the force to continue working with “great synergy and vigour.”

The Air Chief said the IAF’s role in counter-insurgency operations and in keeping vigil in the Northern and Eastern sectors has also come in for wide appreciation from the military, para-military, central agencies and State authorities.

Mr. Raha, who has clocked nearly 3,400 hours of flying, mainly on fighter aircraft, is an alumnus of Defence Services Staff College and the National Defence College and has held many operational assignments such as Command of a MiG-29 Squadron, Bhatinda in Punjab during ‘OP PARAKRAM’.

He had taken over as the Vice Chief of the Air Staff (VCAS) on July 1, 2013.


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