IAF Chief Vouches for Rafale Jets
As the accusations continue to fly about the Prime Minister’s so called interference in the military deal with Dassault Aviation of France, Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa has said that the purchase of the Rafale fighter jets will be of great benefit to India. He indicated that having these advanced fighters would help India combat “grave threats” from its neighbors, China and Pakistan. He also spoke briefly of the S-400 Triumf advanced air defence systems that will be purchased from Russia, saying, “By providing the Rafale and the S-400 (anti-missile system), the government is strengthening the IAF to counter the shortfall of our depleting numbers of aircraft.”
Speaking on what he presented as a looming threat of being severely underpowered as far as the Indian air force would end up being when compared to those of Pakistan and China, the Air Chief Marshal said, “The question that is asked very often in public domain is why 42 squadrons when older aircraft like MiG-21s are being replaced by more capable aircraft. There are reasons (for that) because our neighbours are not sitting idle. Pakistan has upgraded F-16s and made them 4.5 generation as far as avionic electronics goes and is inducting JF-17 (from China) in large numbers. China is rapidly replacing its 2nd and 3rd generation fighters with 4th generation fighters and is developing 5th generation fighter which is likely to be deployed very soon.”
The Air Chief Marshal’s comments echo those made by his subordinating officer earlier this month, when Vice Air Marshal S B Deo made a statement about the “unprecedented combat advantage” that the Rafale jet would give to the IAF.