A few days after Vice Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal B S Dhanoa said the Indian Air Force’s “numbers” were “not adequate” to fully execute an air campaign involving a two-front war, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha Friday assured the nation that the country’s forces are prepared for any contingency.
“I can assure the nation that the army, navy and the air force are prepared and fully geared up for conduct of extensive joint operations in any contingency at any level, be it tactical, operational, or strategic,” Raha said at the IAF’s premier ‘Iron Fist’ exercise at Pokhran.
On March 11, addressing a press conference in Delhi, Dhanoa had said, “Our numbers are not adequate to fully execute an air campaign in a two-front scenario. Probability of a two-front scenario is an appreciation which you need to do. But, are the numbers adequate? No. The squadrons are winding down.” He had said the IAF had conveyed its “concerns” to the government.
On Friday, the IAF displayed its prowess at the day-night ‘Iron Fist’ exercise in Jaisalmer’s Pokhran firing range, less than 200 kilometres from the Indo-Pak border, in the presence of top leadership of the nation, including the President, Prime Minister, Defence Minister, as well as the Chiefs of the Navy, Army and the IAF, besides Defence Attachés of friendly foreign countries.
Addressing the dignitaries, the Air Chief Marshal, who is also the chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee, said the purpose of the ‘day night’ exercise is to display ‘24X7 operations capability’ of the IAF.
He said that though ‘Iron Fist’ offers insights into “capabilities, firepower and the teeth” of the IAF, it is still a “tip of the iceberg” in view of “very serious constraints of this demonstration” compared “to the actual operational capability”.