Indian Air Force Chief RKS Bhadauria Tuesday said the present security environment in the neighbourhood was “a serious cause for concern”, reported news agency ANI. In an interaction with the media in New Delhi, he added that the Pulwama terror attack on February 14 was a “stark reminder” of the “persistent threat” to India’s defence.
Bhadauria said India’s Balakot airstrikes were a “major shift” in the government’s method of handling terrorists attacks. “The strategic relevance of this is the resolve of the political leadership to punish the perpetrators of terrorism and the capability of the IAF to execute a strike inside Pakistan. This has been a major shift in the government’s way of handling terrorists attacks,” he said, reported PTI.
Bhadauria took charge as Chief of Air Staff on September 30 as Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa retired.
At the event, Bhadauria decorated two squadrons, the 51 Squadron and 9 Squadron, for their role in the Balakot airstrike.
Speaking at Hindon airbase in Ghaziabad, where the IAF celebrated its 87th founding day, Bhadauria referred to Balakot again as he said it was important to be “ever prepared to meet any contingency”.
“It is extremely important that we are always vigilant and alert to the existing sub-conventional threat. In the year gone by, the IAF has demonstrated its resolve and capability in punishing the perpetrators of terrorism and we need to be ever prepared to meet any contingency that challenges the defence of our country,” he said, reported PTI.
The ceremony at the Hindon airbase Tuesday included performances by sky divers and air drills. At the event, Bhadauria decorated two squadrons, the 51 Squadron and 9 Squadron, for their role in the Balakot airstrike.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday expressed gratitude to personnel and their families. He tweeted, “Today, on Air Force Day, a proud nation expresses gratitude to our air warriors and their families. The Indian Air Force continues to serve India with utmost dedication and excellence.”
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said the IAF is a “shining example of exemplary courage, fortitude, determination and impeccable service to our nation”. He added, “These men and women in Blue have the ability to touch the sky with grit and glory.”
Incidentally, Singh will receive the first of the 36 Rafale fighter aircraft from France today. He arrived in Paris this morning on a three-day visit to the country. Singh will take a sortie in the jet to gain first-hand experience of it.
Home Minister Amit Shah saluted the Air Force heroes and their families. “Entire nation is proud of your dedication and commitment to safeguard our motherland,” he said.
(With inputs from agencies)