The Indian Air Force is “very much alive” to emerging challenges that could arise in the Indo Pacific region, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa said on Sunday and asserted that his force was ready to deal with any challenge to protect India’s national interests.
He also commented there is cause for concern over the rate of modernization and induction of new equipment in India’s neighborhood, even as India faces pressure emanating from “unresolved territorial disputes” and “sponsored” non-state and transnational actors. But the IAF is capable of, and is moving ahead, for countering them effectively, he told PTI in an interview.
Questioned whether the IAF can play a role in smashing terrorist training camps across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, he did not rule out such a possibility. “The IAF is well capable to take on threats which occur from across the border, be it in the realm of sub-conventional or other domains,” the Air Chief Marshal said.
Referring to India’s sudden security challenges, without naming China and Pakistan, he said, “The present challenges emanate from unresolved territorial issues, sponsored non-state actors and transnational actors who act against national interests through the global commons.”
“The IAF is prepared 24×7 for any threat and is ready for a befitting response to any contingency with all our available assets,” he told PTI. “The IAF is well capable to take on challenges across the entire range of threats that could emanate across our borders. While there is a cause for concern as regards to the rate of modernization and induction of new equipment in our neighborhood, the IAF is nevertheless, moving ahead with proper measures to cater to these new developments,” he said.
Asked whether the IAF was equipped of playing a role to expand India’s geopolitical influence in the Indo-Pacific region, he replied in the affirmative and talked about IAF’s capabilities comprising having the second largest fleet of C-17s.
“We have the second largest fleet of C-17s in the world. Therefore, India will pull its heft in assisting out friendly nations in times of human distress and humanitarian relief. In addition, the IAF is very much alive to the emerging challenges that could arise in the Indo Pacific region,” he said.
Currently, the IAF has a fleet of ten C-17 Globemasters, used for strategic airlift missions, transporting troops and cargo for long-range missions.
The US has been pushing for a bigger role for India in the Indo-Pacific which is seen by many countries as an effort to contain China’s growing clout in the region. In November last year, India, the US, Australia, and Japan gave the project to the long-pending “Quad” Coalition to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence.