Friday, October 9, 2009

Indian Air Force confident of combat capabilities: ACM Naik

HINDON: If you thought IAF despite being one-third the strength of the Chinese air force could not hold its own, cast aside any such doubts. AirChief Marshal P V Naik says IAF is quite confident of its combat capabilities. 

" Yeh chhota mota, chunnu munnu air force nahi hai. Jitna bhi strength hain abhi, kafi hai. Lekhin isse zyada hona chaiye (This is not a rag-tag air force. The strength we have now is enough. But it should grow in the future),'' said ACM Naik, on the sidelines of the IAF Day parade and flypast here on Thursday. 

The IAF chief said though the force's fighter squadron strength was currently down to 32-33 (despite having an authorised strength of 39.5 squadrons), it would gradually increase and attain the desired strength by 2022.

As earlier reported by TOI, with both China and Pakistan bolstering their air combat fleets, IAF now wants another 50 Sukhoi-30MKI multi-role "air dominance'' fighters to cater for any contingency on both the eastern and western fronts.

These 50 new Sukhois will in addition to the 230 of these twin-seater fighters already contracted from Russia in three deals worth upwards of $8.5 billion. IAF has already inducted 105 of the 230 Sukhois till now.

In its quest to emerge as a "strategic aerospace force'', IAF has embarked on a major modernisation drive, which ranges from Israeli AWACS (airborne warning and control systems) and aerostat radars to American C-130J `Super Hercules' heavy-lift aircraft and Russian Mi-17-1V helicopters, as also additional mid-air refuellers, quick-reaction surface-to-air missile systems and the like.

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