IAF Needs to Evolve into Aerospace Power: Air Chief

Indian Air Force

New Delhi: The Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari December 22 said critical deficiencies in the air force needed to be swiftly addressed to retain combat edge. His comment comes at a time when IAF is grappling with a shortage of fighter squadrons and looking at inducting force multipliers such as mid-air refuellers and airborne warning and control systems (AWACS).

“There are certain critical deficiencies like shortage of fighter squadrons and force multipliers which must be addressed on priority to retain our combat edge,” Chaudhari said while delivering the inaugural address at the 19th Subroto Mukherjee seminar here. The air force currently operates around 30 combat squadrons against an optimum 42.

“From an airpower perspective, IAF will be expected to contribute across the full spectrum of conflict. Airpower has the capability to deter, defend and if required, punish the adversary in a conflict,” the IAF chief said.

IAF needed to evolve into an aerospace power by developing the capability to fight and win future wars, he added.

India’s neighbourhood continues to remain volatile and uncertain, Air Chief Chaudhari said. “Amidst this volatility, we must enhance our collective strength by partnering with nations which share common beliefs and values. We must use our image as a stable country with considerable economic heft to forge mutually beneficial relationships and strategic partnerships,” he added.

The air chief touched upon the great power politics in the Indo-Pacific region, where an established superpower (US) is increasingly being challenged by an established regional power with global ambitions (China).

“The outcome of this great power competition will have repercussions for all major players in the region. In the existing world order, where national interests and realpolitik dictate the actions of state players, there would always be an overlap between competition and cooperation,” the IAF chief said.

“When we look at India, there are many things that are going our way. Our economic progress, military might, political stability and diplomatic deftness have put us on the centre stage and announced to the world that India has arrived,” he asserted.

Highlighting the importance of self-reliance, Air chief Marshal Chaudhari said, “We need to focus more on research and development with an aim to manufacture on our own rather than relying on minor indigenisation of foreign products.”