New Air chief should focus on IAF's indigenous projects, suggest experts

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The new chief of the Indian Air Force (IAF) Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari should focus on the indigenous projects and leading the air force to meet the challenges of drone, assert security experts.Chaudhari took over the command from RKS Bhadauria on October 1.

Strategic Affairs expert Air Commodore Prashant Dixit (retd) believes that keeping focus towards make in India, the chief will have to “push” the industry, public and private that are executing various projects. “Delay has been plaguing the projects,” says Air Commodore Dixit.

He adds: “Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has been extended Rs 45,696 crore contract for 73 LCA Tejas Mk-1A fighter aircraft and 10 LCA Tejas Mk-1 Trainer aircraft which need to be delivered in time. Also, Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) will require handholding.” 

“The IAF is down to 30 operational squadrons against the sanctioned 42 squadrons. It needs mid-air refuellers and airborne early warning and control system,” says Dixit. The day Air Chief Chaudhari assumed the charge of chief, he outlined, “enhancement of operational capability” to protect “nation’s sovereignty and integrity at any cost.”

With the ongoing standoff in Eastern Ladakh, the IAF has been playing a crucial role. And, the deployment and change in the format of war is pushing the country to strengthen the other realms of the force like Unmanned Combat and Space.

“We are heading towards a major role of the missiles and drones, both armed and unarmed. Though we have done well in missiles and helicopters, we are lagging in drone systems which are going to play a significant part of the future of air warfare,” says a senior IAF officer on the condition of anonymity. 

Also, the new air chief will be overseeing the Defence Space Agency (DSA), set up in May 2019, in its initiative to get fully operational.

Comprising members from the Army, Navy and Air Force, the DSA is envisaged to gradually take over the space-related capabilities of the three armed forces.

Meanwhile, Air Marshal Dilip Kumar Patnaik on Sunday assumed charge as chief of Eastern Air Command.

Space significance

The significance of space was highlighted during the first in-person meeting of the Quad group in Washington on September 24.

India is deepening its space ties with the US, Japan and Australia — the other three member nations of the group.