Air Chief Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria, Chief of the Air Staff, spoke briefly to Jayant Baranwal, Editor-in-Chief, SP’s Aviation about the role, capability and modernisation of IAF.
SP’s Aviation (SP’s): In the context of the escalating tension on the Western borders over the recent developments in Jammu and Kashmir, what in your assessment is the possibility of a fullscale war with Pakistan?
Chief of the Air Staff (CAS): This rhetoric is ratcheted up by the Pakistani political set up. With respect to the Western adversary we are ready for responding to any development.
SP’s: China has been progressively enhancing the capability of the PLAAF to undertake offensive air operations from bases in Tibet. In your perception, how serious is the threat to our national security and what steps are being taken to prepare the Indian Air Force (IAF) to cope with this emerging challenge?
CAS: We are aware of the developments and have taken necessary steps.
SP’s: What lessons has the IAF learnt in the air strike at Balakot and the conflict with the Pakistan Air Force thereafter especially in respect of the need for modernisation of the IAF?
CAS: The IAF has the capability, which was demonstrated during and posts Balakot strikes. Modernisation is an ongoing process of developing technology and enhancing capabilities of aircraft and weapons. As a responsible and professional service, there is a need to stay ahead of the curve. In the context of India’s neighbourhood we have planned the procurement and induction of Tejas, Rafale, S-400, BrahMos and other such equipment.
Transfer of Technology and Make in India are big factors under which the OEM has to manufacture the fighters in India.
SP’s: Response to the Request for Information for 114 fourthgeneration combat aircraft was received from six global aerospace majors in July 2018. What currently is the status of the project and in what time frame can the nation expect this effort to procure combat aircraft be translated into reality?
CAS: The responses to the RFI have been received. The procurement process would be progressed under provisions of DPP-2016. IAF intends to induct 15 per cent of the total aircraft in a direct fly away condition which would kick start the induction in a shorter time frame. Transfer of Technology and ‘Make in India’ are big factors under which the OEM has to manufacture the fighters in India. The OEM will also be required to share identified technologies that would aid in indigenous design and development of fighter aircraft. The procurement and timelines would be as per the process elaborated for strategic partnership model of DPP-2016.
SP’s: How would the appointment of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) enhance the efficiency and the operational potential of the Indian armed forces? In what time frame do you expect the activation of the post of the CDS?
CAS: The government has announced the appointment of the CDS. The responsibilities and time frame will be known once the road map has been worked out.