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IAF is not just a support arm, says new Air chief Chaudhari, as he backs joint ops

Air Chief Marshal V.R Chaudhari said no one service can singularly go into any battle, and that the Army also at times has to support the IAF in its air operations.

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New Delhi: The new Indian Air Force chief, Air Chief Marshal V.R. Chaudhari, Tuesday strongly pitched for joint planning and operations among the three services, but made it clear that structures and processes of theaterisation will have to take into account individual strengths and doctrines of the Army, Navy and Air Force.

Chaudhari also made it clear that the IAF is not just a support arm, and even the Army will have to support the Air Force in its operations.

“We are fully committed to integration and jointmanship. There is no doubt,” Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari said while addressing the air chief’s annual press conference ahead of Air Force Day on 8 October.

He was responding to questions on the ongoing discussion right now in the defence establishment over the structures of the theatre command, divisions over which came to the fore during a meeting chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in June.

ACM Chaudhari said the points raised by his predecessor ACM R.K.S. Bhadauria (Retd) focused on the need for structures and processes to cater for future warfare.

“That is the key element of restructuring into theatres. The strengths of each service need to be taken into account and need to be synchronised for the net combat capability of the nation,” he said.

The IAF chief also underlined that the doctrines of each service also need to be kept in mind while designing the structures, and added that his force’s concerns have been considered and deliberations and discussions are on.

“We are hopeful that the ultimate structure that will emerge will cater for joint planning and joint operations in future,” he said.

Also read: New IAF chief looks beyond 36 additional Rafale jets, wants 114 multi role fighter aircraft

No service can go into conflict without the other two

Asked about the recent remarks of Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat that the IAF was a “support arm”, ACM Chaudhari said that in any conflict in the world, the air force has had multiple roles.

He said the roles vary from offensive strike and air transportation to supporting the army and maritime forces.

“There are various roles for air forces and it is true for the Indian Air Force. Capability of our training and equipment caters to multiple roles,” he said.

Chaudhari underlined that no one service can go alone into any battle, and would “need the support of the other two services. It is true for all services. It is not that just that the IAF only is the support arm, the Army also at times has to support the IAF in its air operations”.

Prepared for a two-front war

The IAF chief also said his force is fully prepared to deal with any security challenge in eastern Ladakh, and noted that new infrastructure created by the Chinese side in the region will not affect India’s combat capabilities.

China’s capability to launch multiple high altitude missions would remain weak, he said.

ACM Chaudhari said the Chinese Air Force is still present on three air bases on their side of the Line of Actual Control.

“We are fully deployed and prepared on our side,” he said.

He added India is fully ready to deal with a “two-front” war scenario involving China and Pakistan. He said the only worry is Western technology passing from Pakistan to China.

(Edited by Shreyas Sharma)

Also read: ‘Spend more, spend fast’ — Rajnath’s direction to armed forces ahead of mid-term budget review


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