Friday, October 8, 2010

Security scenario like a volcano: IAF chief


Describing the existing security scenario in India\'s neighbourhood as \"a volcano\" which could erupt anytime, Air Chief Marshal P V Naik on Friday asked \"air warriors\" to be fully-prepared to tackle any eventuality.

\"The current security scenario is like a volcano and may test your skills anytime without warning. These times require swift action and commitment,\" said ACM Naik, addressing the 78th IAF Day parade at the Hindon airbase.

This comes soon after defence minister A K Antony said India\'s neighbours, that is Pakistan and China, were building their military capabilities at a \'\'feverish pace\'\'.

The IAF chief, on his part, said, \'\'As an air force, our operational preparedness has to remain high due to the complexity and intensity of threats. Our speed of response, flexibility and precise employment of aerospace assets will be the key to success.\'\'

Pointing out that a large number of acquisitions like the 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA), additional flight refuelling aircraft and Awacs (airborne warning and control systems), helicopters and transport aircraft were in the pipeline, he said, \'\'IAF is going to be a very potent aerospace power in the next five to seven years.\'\'

Unfolding his vision for IAF\'s future, ACM Naik said, \'\'The IAF must be capable of dominating the entire spectrum of information, airspace and cyberspace, where we can conduct operations in the future on our own terms.\'\'

\'\'IAF today is on the threshold of becoming a dynamic aerospace power with sophisticated, specialist weapons, unchallenged strategic reconnaissance and airlift capability, comprehensive air defence systems... With this healthy mix, I am sure we will be able to accomplish our assignments with speed and precision,\'\' he said.

Later, talking to reporters, ACM Naik said he expected the $10.4 billion MMRCA project to be finalized by July 2011. The hotly-contested race to bag the lucrative project is among F/A-18 \'Super Hornet\' and F-16 \'Falcon\' (both US), Gripen (Swedish), Rafale (French), MiG-35 (Russian) and Eurofighter Typhoon jets.

\'\'We submitted the MMRCA report (after field trials of the six fighters) to the defence ministry on July 30 this year. If everything goes off well, then the contract should be signed by July 30 next year,\'\' said IAF chief. The even bigger project will, of course, be the one for the futuristic stealth fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA), which will be manufactured in India with Russian collaboration. The FGFA preliminary design contract is all set to be inked when Russian president Dmitry Medvedev comes here in December. With each FGFA costing at least $100 million, and IAF looking to progressively induct 250 to 300 of them, India\'s investment could eventually go well past the $25 billion mark, as reported by TOI earlier.

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