March 4, 2016 5:57:48 pm
In order to refurbish the dwindling number of fighter aircrafts in the Indian Air Force (IAF), the chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Arup Raha on Friday said the government is planning to manufacture a “second line” of fighter planes under the Make in India project.
“Within 15-20 years, any platform with any air force will tend to suffer from obsoleteness… Aircrafts are losing its relevance because new technologies have come up and they will not be able to match especially if these newer technologies are acquired by adversaries. Yes, we have obsoleteness and that is one major reason why our squadron strength is coming down,” Raha said while addressing the mediapersons on the sidelines of a President’s Standards and Colours award ceremony held at Jamnagar Air Force Station.
Pointing out that some of the aircrafts like the MiG-29, Jaguar and Mirage were being upgraded, the air chief said, “Some of our old fleets are becoming absolutely obsolete and so we need to replace them.”
“We are likely to get the Rafael soon… The government will also be inducting LCA in very large numbers — close to 120 as of now… They are also thinking of setting up one more line of fighter aircrafts in India under the Make in India project, so that the dwindling fighter aircraft force can be replaced at the shortest possible time. It is going to mature in a year,” Raha added.
Though Raha did not expand on the matter, defence officials said the plan could be to start indigenous production of another fighter jet mostly under the PPP mode.
The IAF chief also spoke of having learnt a “few lessons” from the Pathankot terrorist attack. “We are revitalising our training and are getting better small arms… We have also classified and prioritised IAF bases based on the threat perceptions, proximity to the border and the assets these bases have,” Raha said adding that “smart fences” having intrusion alarms will be set up.
“The government has ordered a special review by a team that is being led by an ex-lieutenant general. This team is going to give the report by the 31st of this month,” he added.
When asked if the Pakistani investigation team probing the Pathankot attack will be allowed into the Pathankot IAF base, the IAF head said the decision lay with the government.
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