Shedding a meek and timid shell, the IAF is now able to instill fear in an aggressive China and incorrigible Pakistan. Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha today asserted that the armed forces have the capability to strike at militant camps in PaK and along the Line of Control, but the intent and decision will have to be taken by the political leadership.
However, he asserted that there is nothing to worry as “we also have our assets in various areas. We are also deploying potent forces”.
Asked if the armed forces were capable of carrying out a Myanmar-like operation in PaK and across the LoC, Raha said, “Capability is there. Intent is not mine. Intent has to be of authorities at higher places. So capability is there but whether you have to do it or not, the decision should be political,” he said.
The IAF chief said his force is also focusing on building infrastructure capabilities in remote areas and in Kargil. “Kargil and Neoma (Ladakh) airfields are important not only as capability enhancement of the air force in support of the army or otherwise, but it is also going to help us in increasing tourist traffic and economic development,” he said.
Raha added that the state government is very keen that the Kargil airfield is developed.
“Lot of issues have been resolved…We want to extend the (Kargil) runway so that not only can it be used by larger body aircraft of the Air Force or combat aircraft but also larger body aircraft of civil airlines,” he said, adding in case of Neoma airstrip, the decision making is in advanced stage.
“Contracting will take some time because it is in a remote area. Mobilisation of equipment and material that is required towards building a runway and other infrastructure is huge. The height is 13,000 ft above sea level,” he said, stressing that even if work starts this year, it will take 4-5 years for completion. Replying to a query whether IAF is prepared for a two-front war involving China and Pakistan, Raha said his force was concentrating on enhancing abilities as a deterrent against conflicts and not for conflicts or aimed at one particular country.
He said enhancement of capabilities are also for helping the government in its humanitarian effort and to have an effective footprint in area responsibility or in strategic area.
He also underplayed the proposed sale of Mi-35 attack helicopters by Russia to Pakistan, saying one should not make a mountain out of a mole hill. However, he said, the Indian government was in touch with the Russians.
Sources: Defense News