New Delhi: Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa has compared the shortage of fighter squadrons in the Indian Air Force to “a cricket team playing with seven players instead of 11”.
In an interview to The Indian Express, the Air Force chief said that while the IAF is ready to use air power against Pakistan in the event of a terrorist attack, the option has to be exercised by the government.
“The use of air power in response to heinous acts or terrorist attacks is an option that is to be taken by the government. IAF is prepared for any eventuality,” Dhanoa said.
He added that the IAF has the capability to strike against the Maoists, but he does not envisage “any air attacks in India’s own territory”. “Our roles are restricted to providing intelligence and surveillance to the forces on ground…. As far as terrorist threats are concerned, we do not envisage carrying out air attacks on our territory, to prevent any sliver of possibility for collateral damage. But we have the capability, and are in a position to strike as and when we are cleared to do so by the government.”
Dhanoa had last month, in a personal letter to IAF officers, asked them to be prepared for operations at a “very short notice” to effectively deal with security challenges, including sub- conventional threat, to the country.
Dhanoa’s statement comes days after Indian Army chief Bipin Rawat had said that the force is ready for a “two-and-a-half-front war”, an apparent reference to Pakistan, China and the unrest in Kashmir.