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IAF well-positioned to take on China: Air Chief

Indian Air Force (IAF) chief Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria.  

Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal (ACM) RKS Bhadauria on Monday asserted that India is fully prepared for a two-front war. “We are ready and very well-positioned to take on China and there is no scenario where they can get the better of us”, he said.

“Next three months will depend on how the talks progress. Current progress is slow; what we see is an effort to dig in for the winter... We are talking action accordingly. Our further action will depend on the ground realities,” he observed at the annual press conference ahead of the 88th Air Force Day.

The Air Force had the capability to “shoot first and strike deep and hard” as it was “very well-positioned,” he stated.

ACM Bhadauria, however, noted that they were not underestimating the adversary. “Their [China] strength lies in surface-to-air systems they have put up in the area. They have long missile systems. We cater to those in our matrix... We can take on that threat”.

Deployment along LAC

On deployment in Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with the ongoing stand-off for five months now, the Indian Air Force (IAF) chief said Ladakh was a small part of the Air Force’s deployment. “We have deployed to all relevant areas. We are firmly and strongly deployed to take on any scenarios”.

He said they realised what the Chinese were doing in May. “It is not correct to say we were surprised. It showed our ability to respond and there was no delay”. 

On Chinese air activity along the LAC, he stated that there was no step-up in deployments after the initial developments. “It has remained largely the same.”

Talking of the collusive threat on the northern and western borders, he pointed to full preparations to meet all contingencies, including a simultaneous two-front war with China and Pakistan. “We are aware they are cooperating closely There is significant threat. But so far there is no such indication that they are colluding for a two-front war,” he observed.

Asked if there was any moment during the stand-off where they came clsoe to an air strike, he said ‘no’, while adding, “We were prepared.”

Global support for India 

To questions on global support for India in the ongoing stand-off and possible cooperation with the U.S., he pointed out that they made their plans on their own. “We have to fight our own wars.”

The Air Force had operationalised the recently acquired Rafale jets, Chinook and Apache helicopters in record time. “Next three years, we will see our Rafale and Light Combat Aircraft (LCA)-Mk1 squadrons in full strength,” he stated.

On the falling fighter squadron strength of the Air Force, he said that if they touched 36-37 squadrons by this decade-end, it was very good.

Modernisation

On budgetary constraints for modernisation, he said they would have an impact in due course over the next couple of years but there was no impact on the current capability. “We have done a reprioritisation exercise”.

ACM Bhadauria didn’t comment on any immediate order for more Rafale jets but said their immediate focus was on signing the contract for 83 LCA-Mk1A than the tender for 114 jets. Stressing on indigenous efforts, he said the IAF was looking at close to 450 ‘Make in India’ aircraft of various types in the next 10-15 years. The Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) would be the mainstay of the Air Force in the next decade or so, he asserted.

On the increasing utilisation of drones, including the armed ones, and their applicability for India, he said drones were important for ‘intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance’. “Their role in the initial build-up is very important. But once the build-up happens, they become susceptible”, he added.

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2020 5:34:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/china-cant-get-better-of-us-iaf-chief-bhadauria-on-eastern-ladakh/article32771529.ece

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