State Times NewsNew Delhi: In a clear reference to the Balakot air strike in Pakistan, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Tuesday that the offensive action against terrorists in the neighbourhood spoke volumes about the “reach and lethality” of the Indian armed forces. “We are all aware that the Indian (Air) Force is a technologically advanced and extremely potent force. The recent offensive strikes against terrorist outfits in our neighbourhood speak volumes about the reach and lethality of the formidable arm of the Indian armed forces,” Singh said in his address at a seminar at the IAF Auditorium here. The IAF had conducted air strikes in Pakistan’s Balakot in February, days after the Pulwama terror attack on a CRPF convoy in which 40 personnel were martyred. In his address at the seminar on ‘Modernisation and Indigenisation plans of the Indian Air Force’, Singh announced that the Centre has approved a proposal for use of government test facilities by the private industry to meet the standards required for defence manufacturing.
‘IAF always cautious, alert’
New Delhi: As tensions continue between India and Pakistan over the abrogation of special status to Jammu and Kashmir, Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa on Tuesday said the Indian Air Force (IAF) is “always cautious and alert” to check any untoward aerial movement on the border.He also said the IAF is replacing the high-end obsolete weapon with indigenously developed ones that will boost in-house defence manufacturing, however, “to win a war, we also need high-end, high-tech items, which we need to import”.“We have seen their (Pakistan’s) deployment. The Indian Air Force is always cautious. We are responsible for air defence and we are always alert,” Dhanoa said when asked about the situation at the Indo-Pak border.He was interacting with reporters on the sidelines of a seminar on “Modernisation and Indigenisation plans of the Indian Air Force” at the IAF Auditorium here.“It is not that something has happened so we have become cautious. We are always alert. The Air Force is prepared not only when an enemy aircraft ventures in, but we also keep an eye on civilian aircraft so that incidents like Purulia airdrop do not happen,” Dhanoa said.The Line of Control (LoC) has witnessed several exchanges of fire between the Indian and Pakistani forces since the government repealed the provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution, which gave a special status to Jammu and Kashmir, and bifurcated the state into two Union territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.Earlier, in his keynote address at the seminar, Dhanoa said the IAF is the fourth largest air force in the world and it has grown into a multi-spectrum air force with the use of force multipliers and other assets.“Upgrading of legacy assets is an ongoing process and indigenisation should continue to achieve self-reliance in defence manufacturing,” he said.On aircraft, he said, “Fifth-generation fighter aircraft are the reality and the next generation one is on the drawing board.”“But can we afford a victory in such a process? If there is no war, we cannot wait for indigenous technology to replace obsolescent equipment, neither will it be prudent to import every defence equipment from abroad,” the IAF chief said.On indigenisation, Dhanoa gave examples of the Rohini and Rudra radars, the Astra missile and other critical assets.“The credit must also go to the ADA National Flight Test Centre, as we have not lost a single light combat aircraft in flight testing since January 2001. While on other platforms earlier, we have paid with lives of our test flight pilots and engineers,” he said.Since Independence, 19 pilots and engineers have been killed in air accidents in flight testing and evaluation of the indigenous Marut, Kiran, Ajit and prototype aircraft, Dhanoa said.“Recently, we lost two young and extremely competent pilots during the testing of Mirage-2000 upgrade in HAL, Bangalore,” he added.The seminar was for the Indian industry to better understand what were the requirements of the IAF, and have convergence of various stakeholders.“It goes to the credit to our MiG-21 aircraft, which is almost 44 years old and which I can fly. I am sure no one would like to drive a car of that vintage,” Dhanoa said.
He said the decision was taken after incorporating the comments of the stakeholders particularly, indigenous defence manufacturers. “I sincerely hope the synergy between government’s efforts and industry participation will help fulfil the long-cherished dream of making India a frontrunner in defence production,” Singh said. The defence minister emphasised the need to progressively reduce dependence on foreign manufacturers and indigenously develop comprehensive capabilities in the defence sector. He urged the private industry to take advantage of the government’s policy initiatives and engage with defence services, Defence Public Sector Undertakings and Ordnance Factory Board to meet indigenisation demands. He reaffirmed the government’s commitment to resolving any outstanding issue in the way of growth and development of indigenous defence industries. He asked the industry to not expect any short-term returns but invest for long-term gains. “The Indian Air Force, besides the Army and the Navy, needs to keep pace with the advancements in technology for enhancing operational capabilities,” he said. Recalling Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to modernise the armed forces, Singh said efforts are being made to increase the participation of the private sector in ‘Make in India’ in defence sector.
Singh also said the process of defence offset implementation has been streamlined and one of the major demands of the industry to reinstate the provision of services for discharge of offsets has now been provided.
The Union minister said the defence products list for issuing industrial licenses under Industry Development and Regulation (IDR) Act has been revised, adding, it has reduced the entry barriers for the industry especially the small and medium segment.
“The initial validity of industrial license has been increased from three years to fifteen years with a provision to further extend it by three years on a case-to-case basis,” he added.
Singh also referred to the Technology Development Fund (TDF) Scheme which has been established under the aegis of the Defence Research and Development Organisation to promote self-reliance in defence technology as part of the ‘Make in India’ initiative.
He said the scheme will encourage participation of public and private industries especially, MSMEs, so as to create an ecosystem to enhance cutting-edge technology capability for defence application.
In his keynote address, Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa pitched for in-house manufacturing of defence equipment and called for fine-tuning the capabilities to meet the requirements.
Two books on indigenisation efforts of defence equipment were also released at the event, hosted jointly by the IAF, Confederation of Indian Industry and Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers.
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