SHILLONG, Oct 1: The French made Rafale fighter planes along another squadron of the Sukhois and MIG 27 fighter jets will be inducted in the Eastern Air command as part of the Indian Air Force capability build up in the eastern skies, stated the Air Officer Commanding-in –Chief (AOC-in-C) of the Eastern Air Command Air Marshall C Hari Kumar.
He was speaking to a group of newspersons in the sidelines of the Air Fest 2016 at the Upper Shillong Advanced landing Ground on Saturday.
The eastern Air Command Chief makes no reference to the threat aspects from the neighboring countries particularly Chi which has expanded its air and ground competence along the Indo-Chi border. However, he was candid in mentioning about the IAF preparedness and enhancement of its own capabilities, when questions were posed on the threat perceptions.
“When we look at the performance of any sector, we are looking at building up of capability. The capability to meet challenges and we are not looking up at any specific country as a competitor or as an enemy. We have two Squadron fighter fleet in addition to MiG 27 and Hawks. We are going to get another Squadron and you would know that the Rafale deal has been signed and a squadron of the fighter jets will also be inducted in the EAC,” Air Marshal Kumar stated.
Asked further on the reported inclition of Chi toward Pakistan when tension has been heightening up post the surgical strikes in POK, Air Marshall Hari Kumar said that there is no tension gripping between India and Chi. “It is not a challenge. There is no military alliance as such. It is just that Chi has expressed their concern on the outcome of a Indo-Pak showdown. It is not a military alliance,” he stated.
The AOC-in-C also spoke about the challenges in the eastern air command which are critical in ture and the IAF all round efforts to overcome it. “The terrain and the weather in this part of the coutry is a major challenge. Both are critical as far as air operations are concern. High mountains border our country in this region. And therefore operations are also at a high altitude,” he remarked.
On the tardy pace in upgrading the Advanced Landing Grounds (ALGs) especially in the frontier state of Aruchal Pradesh, the AOC did not hesitate while citing road connectivity as one of the major attributes of the delay. However, he stated, “already five ALGs have been made operatiol and Tuting and Tawang will be operatiolised by the end of this year and beginning of next year respectively.”
Moreover, the AOC-in C does not see the tensions in the western theatre to be transferred to the eastern front, but was categorical that the EAC is ready to be part of any contingency plans to deter the hostile tions to dictate terms through proxy methods.
Meanwhile, the Air Force Festival called ‘AIR FEST 2016’ which started from Septerber 30 and ingarated by, Air Marshal C Hari Kumar drew a good crowd. The Air Fest kicked off with a fly past of MI-17 Helicopters and SU-30 MKI aircraft. This was followed by breathtaking display of the Indian Air Force ‘Air Devils’ team which carried out sky diving and free fall para jumps. There was also a demonstration on slithering operations by ‘GARUD’, the elite commandos of the Indian Air Force. Aero modeling, static display of Aircraft and performance by the Military band are some other highlights of the festival.