Naveen Bharat Editorial
New Delhi: The new chief of the Indian Air Force (IAF), Air Chief Marshal VR Choudhary, should focus on indigenous projects and lead the Air Force to meet the challenges of drones, say security experts.
Chaudhary took over from RKS Bhadauria on 1 October.
Strategic Affairs Specialist Air Commodore Prashant Dixit (Retd) believes that while focusing towards Make in India, the chief will have to “push” industry, public and private which are executing various projects . “Delays are affecting projects,” says Air Commodore Dixit.
He further said: “Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has been awarded a contract worth Rs 45,696 crore for 73 LCA Tejas Mk-1A fighter aircraft and 10 LCA Tejas Mk-1 trainer aircraft, which need to be delivered on time. Also, the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) will require handholding.
“The Indian Air Force is down to 30 operational squadrons against the sanctioned 42 squadrons. It needs mid-air refuelers and an aerial early warning and control system,” says Dixit. On the day Air Force Chief Chaudhry took over as the chief, he outlined an increase in operational capability “to protect the sovereignty and integrity of the nation at any cost”.
With the ongoing standoff in eastern Ladakh, the IAF is playing an important role. And, the deployment and change in the war format is prompting the country to strengthen other areas of force such as unmanned warfare and space.
“We are moving towards a major role of missiles and drones, both armed and unarmed. Although we have done well in missiles and helicopters, we are lagging behind in drone systems, which will play an important role in air warfare in the future.
Also, the new air chief will oversee the Defense Space Agency (DSA), established in May 2019, in its initiative to become fully operational.
Combining members of the Army, Navy and Air Force, the DSA is envisaged to gradually take over the space-related capabilities of the three armed forces.
Meanwhile, Air Marshal Dilip Kumar Patnaik took over as the Chief of Eastern Air Command on Sunday.
The importance of space was highlighted during the first in-person meeting of the Quad group in Washington on 24 September.
India is deepening its space ties with the other three member countries of the grouping – the US, Japan and Australia.