While the controversy over the Rafale deal is raging, Indian Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, on Wednesday, while defending the deal said that Rafale jets and S-400 missiles will lift the combat capability of Air Force which is falling due to depleting fighter squadron. He was speaking at a seminar ‘IAF Force Structure: 2035’ organized by the Centre for Air Power Studies, a Indian Air Force supported Delhi based think tank.
Discussing the capability of adversary air forces of Pakistan and China, Dhanoa said, “China has approximately 1700 fighter aircraft of which 800 are fourth generations. A large number of these can be expected to be deployed against us in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). There are some limitations in parking and operating from there but he has got enough reserves in depth to take care of its interest.”
“What we do not have are the numbers, against a sanctioned strength of 42 squadrons, we are down to 31. Even when we do have 42 squadrons, we will be below the combined numbers of two of our regional adversaries,” he added.
Rationalizing the need for more aircraft, he said “We have to match neighbours Pakistan and China to tackle a two-front war.”
Defending the emergency purchase of 36 aircraft, Air Chief referred to similar purchases made during the 80s after Pakistan acquired F-16 from US.