Situation still ‘live’ after surgical strikes: IAF chief (Roundup)

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New Delhi, Oct 4 (IANS) The situation is still “live” along the border with Pakistan after the Indian Army’s surgical strikes on terrorist launch pads across the Line of Control (LoC), the Indian Air Force chief said on Tuesday, but stressed that his force is fully capable of handling any eventuality, including a two-front war.

“Things are still live. Therefore, it will not be right for me to give you any perspective on it,” said Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha at the annual Indian Air Force press conference ahead of Air Force Day on October 8 as he declined to answer questions on last week’s surgical strikes.

“This is a very sensitive issue. I would not like to comment on it,” said Raha, who is also the incumbent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC).

The surgical strikes were carried out by Indian forces in the wake of the September 18 terror attack on an army camp in Uri town of Jammu and Kashmir in which 19 Indian soldiers were killed.

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Pakistan has, however, claimed that no such attack took place. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson Stephane Dujarric has said at a daily press briefing that the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) had not “directly observed” any firing.

Asked about the IAF’s preparedness in case of a two-front war, Raha said: “The Air Force, Army, Navy are always ready and will always be ready.”

“I think the capabilities of the armed forces are adequate to take up any challenge. We are not going to develop our capabilities vis-a-vis particular adversary or a country. We have the capability to deter our adversaries… if we have to use that capability in a conflict, we are ready. To my mind, we are ready for any eventuality,” he said.

He added that while the IAF had “good capability”, it could have been better had the acquisitions been on time.

“If the inductions and replacements were timely, I think Indian Air Force’s capability, specially in terms of combat aircraft capability… as of now is good, but it could have been better (sic),” he said.

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“I think all our procurement, specially acquisitions, have been more or less process driven and not outcome driven. There is a change of perception, procurement policy and processes are being amended it is outcome driven. I am very sure not only 36 Rafale aircraft is going to come in, but other projects which are on the table right now…” he added.

A video played by the IAF in the beginning of the press conference, meanwhile, said that the results of 1962 India-China war could have been different had IAF’s capabilities been utilised.

Asked about it, the air force chief said any decision for using the IAF for offensive action is a call taken by the government.

“The situation in 1962 in terms of environment the world over, and in our area was quite different. We had a perception that using air power in the offensive mode will result in escalation,” Raha said.

“So going by environment and thought processes in perceptions, whatever decisions were taken by the nation’s leadership at that time was perhaps appropriate. As we have evolved over a period of time, I think the air force always had the capabilities to be deployed and employed in offensive operations against an adversary during conflict situation. Today the air force is much more capable,” he said.

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“Whether we are going to use it in offensive role in any contingency is to be decided government and national leadership but we are always ready to do the task,” he added.

Raha also lauded the Rafale fighter jet for which a deal was concluded between India and France recently, and said IAF would like to have more of them. He, however, added that any decision will be taken in future depending on requirements.

Speaking on the 7th Pay Commission, he said the recommendations are being implemented, adding that assurance has been received that anomalies will be corrected.

“We are assured these issues will get resolved,” he said.



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