IAF chief BS Dhanoa asserts India's capability to fight two-front war, acknowledges Chinese presence in Chumbi Valley

The Indian Air Force (IAF) can target Pakistan's nuclear sites and has the capability to help the army in carrying out surgical operations, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa said. at a press conference ahead of the Air Force Day on 8 October.

Addressing the annual press conference of the IAF ahead of Air Force Day, Dhanoa said "I take this opportunity to assure the nation of our sacred resolve in defending the sovereignty of our skies."

Asserting that if the need arises, the air force is prepared to fight at short notice in full synergy with other two sister services, the air force chief said that the men and women under his command are fully prepared to undertake the complete spectrum of air operations and respond to any challenge in a befitting manner, reported ANI.

He further added that while decision on surgical strikes has to be taken by the government, the air force has the capability to carry them out. Speaking about the two-war scenario, he said that the air force has the numbers of carrying out the full spectrum of operations. He said "our capability is adequate" to counter any threat from the eastern side — China — and that the Indian Air Force has a 'Plan B' ready to cater for the shortage of strength, if such a situation were to arise.

File image of IAF head Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa. Image courtesy: PIB

File image of IAF head Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa. Image courtesy: PIB

He further said that additions are being made to the inventory and the air force will reach fill mandated strength of 42 squadrons by 2032. At present, the air force has 33 squadrons and 10 of those are listed to be phased out.

The air force chief, however, added that more than assets, the question was what China can and cannot do operating from Tibet against India.

In September, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat had cautioned that China is silently taking over territory and testing India's threshold, and warned of a two-front war on the western and northern borders. The statement had come barely a week after India and China managed to disengage their border personnel at Doka La and ended one of their longest face-offs.

Turning his attention to Pakistan, the air force chief said that the air force has the capability to "locate, fix and strike across the border." He also added that India was adequately prepared to take on China.

On the Doka La crisis, he said that Chinese forces are still deployed in Chumbi Valley, in the southern reaches of Tibet along the Line of Actual Control, but he "expects that they withdraw as summer exercise gets over."

Dhanoa said: "We are not in physical face-off but in Chumbi valley their troops are still deployed. Hope they will withdraw in future after their exercises are over," the IAF chief said.

The Air Force chief also hoped that India and China will diplomatically resolve the issue.

"Both countries are major economic and political powers in the region, I expect them to display maturity in resolving the issues. Peaceful resolution of such issues will be in the interest of both countries and I am confident that at the political and diplomatic level it is being done," he said

He also said that there was no face-off in the air during the over 70-days-long standoff and there were no air violations.

"As far as flying goes, we have these measures, armed fighters don't go beyond 20 km from the perceived LAC that was not violated by either side," he said. "We had a standoff on the ground but in the air there was no standoff," Dhanoa added.

He said IAF's role during the stand-off was limited to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. "Our basic thrust was on ISR through various medium, we did want to know what was happening. We did not infringe on this boundary."

Dhanoa also expressed concern over recent accidents and technical snags in its aircraft. "Our losses during peace time are cause of concern. We are making concentrated efforts to minimize accidents and preserve our assets," Dhanoa said.

In September 2016, the Indian Army had destroyed five terror camps across the LoC and members of the special forces from the army were para-dropped at the spots. During the counter-terror operations, significant casualties were caused to the terrorists.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Oct 06, 2017 11:34 AM

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