New Delhi: Air Force chief B.S. Dhanoa on Wednesday claimed that India was facing a severe threat and security challenges unlike any other country in the world, adding that the Air Force had to further enhance its capacity since the intentions of adversaries could well change overnight. Mr Dhanoa claimed countries such as China in India’s neighbourhood were not sitting idle and were modernising their Air Force capabilities significantly.
The Air Force chief was speaking at a seminar on ‘IAF’s force structure, 2035’ in the capital. Procuring Rafale fighter jets and S-400 missile systems would further enhance IAF’s capability, he added.
While justifying the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets, Mr Dhanoa claimed that there were examples of similar purchases. Mr Dhanoa said even in the past there were instances of similar “emergency” acquisitions and defended the procurement of only 36 Rafale fighter jets against the original proposal of 126 aircraft.
As the Air Force is already facing a severe shortage of fighter aircraft in the wake of India facing major security challenges, Mr Dhanoa admitted that the purchase of 36 Rafale jets, which is two squadrons, would help the force deal with the situation.
“Whenever the government felt the air power element of the defence forces is likely to be in a disadvantageous position, it has gone in for emergency purchases of the aircraft under the umbrella of the inter-governmental agreement,’’ the Air Force chief said.
Even in the past, in case of an emergency situation, the government had purchased fighter aircraft on several occasions, he claimed. “By providing the Rafale and S-400, the government is strengthening the IAF to counter the shortfalls of our depleting numbers,’’ Mr Dhanoa added.
Apart from Rafale jets, the government is also procuring a batch of S-400 air defence missile systems from Russia....