The present security scenario along the northern border is at an uneasy “no war, no peace” status and air power will be a crucial enabler for victory in any future conflict, according to Air Chief Marshal (ACM) R.K.S. Bhadauria.
“Our defence forces are prepared for any eventuality. The IAF [Indian Air Force] has responded with resolve to counter any misadventure. Air power will be a crucial enabler in our victory in any future conflict. It is, therefore, imperative that the IAF obtains and maintains technological edge over our adversaries”, ACM Bhadauria said at a webinar jointly organised by the Centre for Air Power Studies and the Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers on Tuesday.
The recent induction of the Rafale fighter jet, along with the C-17 transport aircraft, the Chinook heavy lift helicopter, the Apache attack helicopter and other aircraft fleets had provided the IAF with “substantial tactical and strategic capability enhancement,” he said.
High operational alert
The IAF is currently on high operational alert in view of the ongoing stand-off with China along the disputed border in Ladakh, and several front line fighter jets have been forward deployed.
Talking of the modernisation process and the opportunity for the private industry, ACM Bhadauria said that in all, the IAF was “looking at 450 new aircraft, including helicopters, over the next two decades” not to count around 200-300 aircraft upgrades that would take place in this period. These include the 83 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Mk-1A, order for which was expected soon, 106 HTT-40 trainer aircraft and the LCA enhancements, including Mk-2 and subsequent upgrades.
On the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA), he said they have requested the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to work on a single point agenda and develop a fifth generation aircraft with sixth generation technologies.
A major challenge
Dr. Satheesh Reddy, Chairman of DRDO, said the development of the LCA-Mk2 and the fifth generation AMCA were priority areas towards indigenous push. The AMCA was a major challenge for the indigenous aerospace industry, as several technologies needed to be developed such as materials, coatings, the complete system and weapons.
On the twin-engine aircraft carrier-based aircraft being developed for the Navy, Dr. Reddy said after several successful carrier landing and take-offs by the single-engine Naval LCA, they have gained the confidence to develop the aircraft. Indigenisation of spares and support was essential and presented an opportunity for industry. “We cannot be dependent on import of spares forever,” he added.