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IAF to continue operations in eastern Ladakh as complete disengagement with China yet to take place

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Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari said the IAF does not have a fixed mindset in terms of the deployment of assets in key areas along the LAC.

NEW DELHI: As China's PLA continues its enhanced level of deployment in eastern Ladakh, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is keeping its plans dynamic and will maintain operations till disengagement from all points is complete. Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Chief of Air Staff (CAS) ACM VR Chaudhari said, "The situation continues to remain what it was in the last one year. There have been disengagements in certain contested areas. But complete disengagement has not yet taken place. We will continue to remain deployed till complete disengagement takes place." The Indian Air Force is gearing up to celebrate its 91st anniversary on October 8.

Meanwhile, the IAF is keeping watch on China's rapid expansion of military infrastructure and enhanced deployment across the borders, through ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) mechanisms, said the IAF chief. "We make note of the build-up of resources and capabilities across the borders. Our operational plans are very dynamic and keep changing based on the situation that we perceive that is developing across any front," he said. "So in places where we cannot really counter the numbers or the might of the adversary, we will counter it through better tactics and through better training," he said.

ALSO READ | Chinese belligerence presenting a threat to 'rules-based international order': Indian Army Chief The IAF's operational plans are very dynamic and it will deal with challenges along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) through better tactics and training in places where it cannot counter the "numbers or the might of the adversary," Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari said. The Air Chief Marshal said the IAF does not have a fixed mindset in terms of the deployment of assets in key areas along the LAC.

"Our focus will remain to be dynamic at all times and not have a fixed mindset in terms of deployment of assets in particular areas. But we have very very flexible and dynamic war plans which we keep revising every now and then based on the ISR inputs that we get," he said. The IAF is also going ahead with induction of modern systems and platforms to bolster the force's operational prowess, he said, adding that a contract to procure 97 Tejas Mark 1A aircraft at a cost of around Rs 1.15 lakh crore will be concluded soon.

In February 2021, Defence Ministry sealed a Rs 48,000-crore deal with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd to procure 83 such jets. Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari said the IAF is looking at inducting military platforms, equipment and defence hardware worth Rs 2.5 lakh crore to Rs 3 lakh crore in the next seven-eight years. The Chief of Air Staff also said the IAF is in the process of deploying mountain radars to improve surveillance along the borders.

On the strategic air defence system S-400, Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari said that the IAF received three units of the missile systems from Russia and is hoping to receive the remaining two by next year. The missile system can track a large number of targets at 600 km and can deploy four different kinds of missiles engaging the targets at varying distances. The system is capable of destroying aircraft, missiles (cruise and ballistic), UAVs and other air assault vehicles up to 400 kilometres from a range of 100 ft to 40,000 ft.

Talking about the Indo-Pacific region, the Air Chief termed it the "new economic and strategic centre of gravity" of the world that offers both challenges and opportunities. "The Indian Air Force with its inherent capability to see the farthest, reach the fastest and hit the hardest will be critical in mitigating these challenges and will remain a fulcrum in projecting India's might in the region," he said.

"Owing to the volatile and uncertain geopolitical landscape in our region, the need to have a strong and credible military has become an imperative," he said. The IAF is treading on a transformation journey adding the modern technologies and focusing on self reliance in defence. The Chief of Air Staff said modern warfare is constantly undergoing a transformation due to rapid advancements in technology and that his force has embarked on a journey of transformation and is progressing in a planned and systematic manner.

"Our focus is on force multipliers in the form of AI (artificial intelligence)-based decision tools, electronic warfare equipment, robust networks and harnessing space and cyber capabilities. While adding newer and more potent equipment, platforms and weapons to our arsenal, we are also committed to Atmanirbhar Bharat and are contributing extensively towards enhancing indigenisation and defence production, fast-paced development and operationalisation of indigenous aerospace projects," he said. (THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)

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