Source – The Times of India
The Indian Air Force’s `critical deficiencies’ in the number of fighter squadrons and force multipliers need to be urgently plugged to ensure the force retains its combat edge, Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari said on Thursday, amid China upgrading all its air bases facing India to station more fighters, bombers and drones there.
The IAF chief, in an address at a seminar here, also said India must enhance its ties and strategic partnerships with other like-minded countries to enhance “collective strength” while retaining its own strategic autonomy.
The IAF needs to evolve into an aerospace power and to do so, there is a need to develop the capability to fight and win tomorrow’s wars. Multi-domain operations and hybrid warfare are here to stay and we must, therefore, realign and reform to keep pace with technology to remain relevant,” ACM Chaudhari said.
There are certain critical deficiencies like shortage of fighter squadrons and force multipliers which must be addressed on priority to retain our combat edge,” he added. The IAF, incidentally, is currently down to just 30-31 fighter squadrons when its
authorised strength’ to tackle the collusive China-Pakistan threat is 42.5 squadrons. Noting that India’s neighbourhood continues to remain “volatile and uncertain”, the IAF chief said, “Amidst this volatility, we must enhance our collective strength by partnering with nations which share common beliefs and values.” “We must use our image as a stable country with considerable economic heft to forge mutually beneficial relationships and strategic partnerships. It is essential that we retain our strategic autonomy and to do that, in my opinion, a strategy of balancing, as espoused by John Mearsheimer, would be the way forward,” he added. India must develop its own strategy to survive and thrive amidst the ongoing geo-political competition without losing sight of its long term objectives. This, he said, has been on display through India’sbalanced position’ at the UN during ongoing conflicts like the Russia-Ukraine one as well as its decision to act in its national interests with regard to importing oil at best prices despite pressure from various quarters.
“The actions we take today and the policies that we adopt will determine the trajectory of our position in the world order in the coming decades,” ACM Chaudhari said. Asserting that there can be no soft power without adequate and credible hard power, he added, “Only when our borders, airspace and coasts are secure will India flourish.”