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IAF chief defends emergency procurement of Rafale jets

Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa.

Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Amid mounting controversy over government’s Rafale deal with France, Indian Air Force (IAF) Chief Air Chief Marshal (ACM) B.S. Dhanoa on Wednesday defended the emergency procurement of 36 jets, which, he said would arrest the depleting numbers of the force.

“By providing the Rafale and S-400, the Government is strengthening the IAF to counter the depleting force numbers,” ACM Dhanoa said speaking at a seminar on IAF force structure, organised by the Centre for Air Power Studies in New Delhi on Wednesday.

 

Stating that such emergency procurements were undertaken in the past to arrest depleting numbers, ACM Dhanoa said, “It is pertinent to note that all those procurements are for two squadrons of aircraft and under the umbrella of IGA.”

He said that the Government has undertaken emergency procurements on several occasions in the past. In 1983 when Pakistan inducted the first lot of F-16s, India gotvMig-23MF air defence interceptors from Soviet Union. Later India also got two squadrons of Mirage-2000s and also to squadrons of Mig-29s.

“It is pertinent to note that all those procurements are for two squadrons of aircraft and under the umbrella of Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA),” ACM Dhanoa stated.

On the IGA route for defence procurements, ACM Dhanoa said it facilitates faster procurement of equipment and “whenever a critical operational necessity arises, it is the quickest means of achieving operational capability.”

India and France signed a €7.87 billion IGA for 36 Rafale multi-role fighter jets in fly-away condition during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Paris in September 2016.

While opposition parties, especially Congress claims the deal is too expensive and allegedly favours Anil Ambani group, the government has asserted that no procedure has been violated.

Two-front war

Drawing attention to the depleting fighter strength of the IAF which has fallen to 31 squadrons from the sanctioned strength of 42 squadrons, the Air Chief said China and Pakistan were rapidly modernising their Air Forces.

“We have to match the force level of our adversaries so that we can fight simultaneously on two-fronts,” ACM Dhanoa added.

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Printable version | Jul 9, 2020 8:27:28 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/iaf-chief-defends-emergency-procurement-of-rafale-jets/article24932654.ece

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