By Staff Correspondent
In a pivotal address ahead of the Air Force Day, Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari laid out the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) transformative trajectory, with a strong emphasis on technological investments, amidst volatile regional dynamics.
Given the escalating tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), particularly in eastern Ladakh, the IAF chief confirmed that deployments will continue until a full disengagement materialises in the contested zones. Reflecting on the strategic challenges, he commented, “Where we might not match numbers or might, our operational plans, underpinned by improved tactics and training, will effectively address threats along the LAC.”
Highlighting the IAF’s ambitious procurement blueprint, Chaudhari announced impending contracts, including one for 97 Tejas Mark 1A aircraft, valued at roughly Rs 1.15 lakh crore. This builds on a prior February 2021 agreement with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd for 83 jets, marking a total investment north of Rs 48,000 crore. A broader perspective shows the IAF’s vision to integrate defence hardware and equipment totalling Rs 2.5 lakh crore to Rs 3 lakh crore over the forthcoming seven to eight years.
The Air Chief Marshal shed light on the IAF’s rigorous border surveillance via Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) methods, particularly against the backdrop of China’s mounting military infrastructure along the LAC. He stressed the IAF’s agile strategic planning, continuously informed and adjusted by ISR insights. On enhancing border vigilance, he disclosed the ongoing deployment of mountain radars.
On the international front, the Russia-Ukraine conflict’s ramifications on India’s S-400 Missile System procurement were discussed. While three units have been received, Chaudhari remains hopeful for the completion of the order within the year. Drawing attention to the broader geopolitical canvas, he underscored the Indo-Pacific’s burgeoning importance, characterising it as the novel fulcrum of global economic and strategic influence. Given this backdrop, the IAF’s capabilities, especially its extended reach and precision, are deemed vital.
In resonance with the global tilt towards modern warfare adaptations, the IAF chief elucidated on the force’s strategic shift towards AI-centric decision tools, electronic warfare enhancements, secure networks, and augmenting space and cyber functionalities.
The emphasis on indigenous solutions was evident as Chaudhari said, “While our arsenal is seeing new additions, our commitment to Atmanirbhar Bharat is unwavering. This guides our significant contributions towards domestic defence production and the swift implementation of homegrown aerospace initiatives.” He cited the recent induction of the C-295 aircraft as a testament to this ethos.
The IAF’s forward-looking areas of focus, as delineated by the chief, include relentless surveillance capabilities, minimising the sensor-to-shooter lag, curating long-haul precision munitions, and amplifying multi-domain proficiencies.