Develop IAF into dominant aerospace power: Antony
May 21, 2007 - 3:59:19 PM

New Delhi, May 21 - Urging eternal vigilance to safeguard India's security concerns, Defence Minister A.K. Antony Monday called for all efforts to develop the Indian Air Force - into a dominant aerospace power.

Inaugurating the three-day Air Force Commanders' Conference here, the minister noted that the IAF, which is celebrating its platinum jubilee, was in the process of transformation and modernisation and that several important projects were in various stages of implementation.

Noting that the government was aware of the challenges, issues and requirements of the IAF, he added that since the IAF was a technology intensive force, 'our attempts should be to enhance - strategic reach and integrate - potent capabilities in air defence surveillance, space based assets and advanced weapon systems to develop it into a dominant aerospace power.

'We must also develop asymmetric capabilities against superior forces.'

The minister said the IAF had chalked out an ambitious action plan for acquiring new systems and upgrading existing ones over the next three years.

'Given the substantial amount of public money being used for these efforts, it is imperative that these financial resources are utilised honestly, efficiently and optimally,' he maintained.

In this context, he noted that a country like India could not 'indefinitely' continue to rely on outside suppliers for military hardware and that self-reliance and indigenisation must be the top priority.

'Self-reliance through indigenisation should be the mantra for companies in both the public as well as the private sector,' he added.

Complimenting the IAF for its 'excellent' flight safety record in 2006-07, the minister called for 'all possible efforts' by aviation related organisations to ensure that loss of human and financial resources through accidents remains minimal if not eliminated altogether.

He also stressed on the need for training and of strict adherence to standard operating procedures - relating to flight safety.

Referring to the problem of serviceability, Antony said though long-term business agreements had been signed, a lot more remains to be done.

Emphasising the need for meticulous planning with regard to the procurement of spares, he asked the IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal Fali H. Major, to chalk out a concrete action plan in this regard.

Deliberating on India's 'friendly and cordial relations' with all nations, especially the countries in our immediate neighbourhood, Antony said relations with Pakistan were showing signs of improvement.

'However, Pakistan needs to match its words with action on dismantling the terrorists' and jehadi infrastructure. Though we deserve peace with Pakistan and want to continue talks on various issues, it is imperative for us to maintain eternal vigil all along our borders,' the minister maintained.

Expressing concern over the deteriorating situation in Sri Lanka, Antony said the air offensive launched by the Tamil Tiger rebels was a cause for concern.

'On our part, we have to be vigilant and continue to safeguard our security concerns,' the minister added.

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