Rafale jets will help India fight threats, says Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa
Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa says it will also help the Indian Air Force strengthen its depleting fleet of fighters
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, 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 neighbours were "not sitting idle" and continuously modernising their air warfare capabilities.
Speaking at a seminar, Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa said the Russian-made S-400 Triumf 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. "Hi-tech fighters like Rafale are needed because medium-tech fighters like Tejas alone cannot do," he added.
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 bridged by getting the hi-tech aircraft.
"The question that is asked very often in public domain, is why 42 squadrons when older aircraft like MiG-21s are being replaced by more capable aircraft. There are reasons (for that) because our neighbours are not sitting idle. Pakistan has upgraded F-16s and made them 4.5 generation as far as avionic electronics goes and is inducting JF-17 (from China) in large numbers." "China is rapidly replacing its second and third generation fighters with fourth generation ones and is developing fifth generation fighters, which is likely to be deployed very soon."
No. of squadrons the Indian Air Force has
No. of squadrons the IAF should have
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