New Delhi: Rafale jets will power the Indian Air Force (IAF) to fight “grave threats” India faces from Pakistan and China, Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa said on Wednesday, strongly batting for the French-made fourth generation aircraft whose purchase has triggered allegations of financial irregularities. The IAF chief said that by acquiring the French fighters, the IAF would also be able to strengthen its depleting fleet of fighters at a time when India’s neighbors were “not sitting idle” and continuously modernizing their air warfare capabilities.
Speaking at a seminar here, Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa said the Russian-made S-400 Triumph advanced air defence systems to be bought from Moscow would also enhance the capability of the air force. “By providing the Rafale and the S-400 (anti-missile system), the government is strengthening the IAF to counter the shortfall of our depleting numbers of aircraft,” he said. “The hi-tech fighters like Rafale are needed because medium-tech fighters like Tejas alone cannot do.” He said the IAF was already down with only 31 squadrons from the sanctioned strength of 42. “Even when we do have 42 (squadrons), we will be below the combined strength of our two adversaries,” he said, adding that the gap was being “partially fulfilled by getting the hi-tech aircraft. “China is rapidly replacing its 2nd and 3rd generation fighters with 4th generation fighters and is developing 5th generation fighter which is likely to be deployed very soon.” He said very few countries were facing challenges like India, which is surrounded by “two nuclear-armed neighbours”. (IANS)