M A I N   N E W S

IAF chief rules out repeat of 1962
Like China, we are also trying to strengthen our capabilities. Earlier, we weren’t doing anything, says AK Antony
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 1
As China showcased its military might in Beijing today, India, too, flexed its muscles, albeit verbally. The Air Force chief, Air Chief Marshal PV Naik, asserted: “A repeat of the 1962 (India-China war) is not possible…” while Defence Minister AK Antony said India was building defence capabilities just as China has done. Both, Antony and Naik, in their separate ways, listed India’s plans.

While talking to mediapersons just ahead of the 77th anniversary of the IAF, Naik in reply to a question on the Chinese threat said: “… Nobody wants a war… The guy may not be in the right frame of mind to have a war…”. There should be no lack of confidence among public about the capabilities of the nation, he added.

Antony, while talking to reporters on the sidelines of a defence function, said: “Just as what China is doing, we are also trying to strengthen our capabilities. In the past few years, the government was bolstering the infrastructure. Earlier, we were not doing anything.”

He played the “peace card” saying in spite of “occasional troubles”, the Sino-Indian border was peaceful and India wanted to resolve its issues with Beijing only through negotiations.

Naik said the IAF aims to have an edge over other countries. The infrastructure being built is specific to any adversary. It is capability enhancement to meet the aspirations of the country. “The nation is getting caught in a vortex of a security scenario”.

The IAF will be called upon to ensure the inviolability of India’s enhanced strategic interests that now extend from the straits of Hormuz in the Middle East to the Straits of Malacca on the eastern side.

He listed out what he called the “four pillars” of strategic planning: To see first and farthest; to reach farther and first; to be able to hit accurately and hit hard and to protect the national assets during peace and wartime. This includes satellites to keep an eye in the sky, medium and long-range radars and weapons that are not deterred by electronic surveillance (jammers).

The IAF is upgrading six airstrips in Arunachal Pradesh bordering China to improve its capabilities to rapidly move troops, Naik said. These are at Along, Malong, Tuting and Machuka, among others. “It is long overdue. These should have been done much earlier”, he said while adding that the three such airstrips opened in eastern Ladakh will have concrete runaways in the next few years. 

The induction of force multipliers like the Israeli Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) and Russian mid-air refueller IL-78s have already added to the IAF’s war fighting capabilities. We will seek more Aerostat radars, which along with the AWACS have strengthened IAF’s capability to see beyond enemy lines and provide better surveillance. The next generation of fighter aircraft are being co-developed with Russia. The IAF chief sought to downplay the recent reports of incursions by Chinese forces along the Line of Actual Control. “There is no spate in incursions. We should not take too much notice of it. They are under surveillance,” Naik added. 



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