Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday complimented the Indian Air Force for ensuring a “timely and befitting” response to the “sudden” developments in eastern Ladakh, in a reference to the Sino-India border row in the mountainous region. During an interaction with top commanders of the IAF, the defence minister also advised them to draw up long-term plans and strategies to boost combat capabilities of the force to counter future threats, officials said.
Noting that changing dimensions of war would now include advanced technologies, asymmetric capabilities and information dominance, the minister, who inaugurated the bi-annual commanders’ conference, said it was very important that the IAF’s preparations for the future must include these aspects. “The defence minister congratulated IAF for ensuring a timely and befitting response to the sudden developments in eastern Ladakh,” the IAF said in a statement without elaborating.
As the situation deteriorated in eastern Ladakh following a fierce clash between Indian and Chinese troops in Galwan valley in June last year, the Indian Air Force deployed almost all its frontline fighter jets like Sukhoi 30 MKI, Jaguar and Mirage 2000 aircraft in the key frontier air bases in the region. In his address, Singh also assured the IAF of “wholehearted support” from the defence ministry in achieving its goal of becoming a potent strategic aerospace force, officials said.
Referring to changing international geopolitics, Singh said the perceptible shift of focus from trans-Atlantic to trans-Pacific has become more obvious in the recent past. He also expressed confidence that important decisions taken during the conference would enhance the combat potential of the IAF, noting that security and economic development are complementary aspects of national policy.
The defence minister appreciated the “critical focus” of the IAF towards reorienting for the future while stressing on the need to work pro-actively towards integration among the three services. In the three-day conference at the Air headquarters in Delhi, the commanders are deliberating on finalising strategies to boost the IAF’s combat prowess besides taking stock of overall security challenges facing the nation.
“The defence minister stressed on the need to continue to work pro-actively towards the integration process currently underway, implementation of the joint logistics plan and to enhance synergy in areas of joint planning and operations,” the IAF said. It said he urged the commanders to take stock and implement all directions issued by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the combined commanders’ conference that had taken place at Kevadia in Gujarat last month.
Asserting that the IAF’s order for Light Combat Aircraft Tejas would result in a substantial boost to the domestic defence industry, he said it will be a game changer from the perspective of defence indigenisation.
In February, the government sealed a Rs 48,000 crore deal to procure 83 Tejas aircraft from state-run aerospace behemoth Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. It is the biggest ever indigenous defence procurement programme.
He urged the commanders to continue their efforts for achieving even greater results in the field of indigenous defence production and aircraft maintenance. Issues pertaining to systems, reforms and restructuring for ensuring more efficient processes across all domains and optimised operational training are also being discussed at the conference.
The defence minister also expressed happiness that the conference coincided with the birth anniversary of the Marshal of the Air Force Arjan Singh. On the COVID-19 pandemic, the defence minister appreciated the role played by the IAF in assisting other government agencies in dealing with the situation.