Tarmak007 -- A bold blog on Indian defence: Interview with IAF Chief: We are focusing on network-centric warfare capabilities; we believe quality of HAL products will improve with entry of private players

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Interview with IAF Chief: We are focusing on network-centric warfare capabilities; we believe quality of HAL products will improve with entry of private players

Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik. Photo: IAF
The Indian Air Force turned 78 on Oct. 8, and just two weeks later the IAF held its four-day biannual Commanders’ Conference Oct. 26-29, touching on issues ranging from operational preparedness and philosophies to maintenance, upgrades, HR, acquisition, and administration. As part of its aggressive modernization mission, the IAF is waiting in the wings to acquire new assets and upgrade some of its fleets. “We need to continuously train and evolve to become a capability-based force. We are honing our skills in cyberwarfare and concentrating on building network-centric warfare capabilities to boost our combat efficacy,” Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik tells Aviation Week’s Senior Aerospace and Defense Correspondent (India) Anantha Krishnan M. during the India Thought Leader (ITL) interview series. This interview mainly focuses on IAF’s philosophies toward its air warriors, support for homegrown projects and readiness to take on future challenges.
AW: IAF has grown one more year old this October. What are the challenges the air warriors will face in the next 5-10 years?
P.V.N.: I would say that the IAF has matured one more year. And this maturity is accentuated in the way we continue to evolve our warfighting doctrines and  training methodologies, with a greater emphasis on harnessing the potential of human resources to achieve our objectives.  Air warriors in the IAF are alive to the ever-changing strategic environment.  As you know, we have embarked upon an all-round modernization plan which aims to replenish our fleets, upgrade airfield infrastructure and acquire modern radars and weapon systems. Therefore, one of the major challenges is the co-habitation factor – that of maintaining the existing fleet and, at the same time, assimilating the modern technologies coming our way. We are fortunate to have a highly professional HR pool – one which is rich in exposure and has demonstrated a great deal of adaptability in absorbing modern technologies.  We are also honing our skills in cyberwarfare and concentrating on building network-centric warfare capabilities to boost our combat efficacy. In a nutshell, we will need to continuously train and evolve to become a capability-based force, one which is more than capable to meet all the challenges of the future.
AW: Often we read media reports and comments being made by senior IAF officials about the depleted squadron strength of IAF.  What are the quick steps that need to be taken to strengthen the IAF?
P.V.N.: It’s a known fact that the IAF’s fighter fleet is depleting due to phasing out of MiG-21 and MiG-23 aircraft. Both these aircraft served us well. Even the strength of the MiG-27s has been reduced to half the original. While technological obsolescence is an inevitable phenomenon, there is a need for concurrent replenishment of our combat inventory. As you are aware, the Light Combat Aircraft project has overshot production time frames. The MMRCA would take at least 4 years to fully fructify. However, it would be unwise to base our combat efficacy solely on classical numerology – that of having the required numbers. New squadrons of Su-30 MKI are being raised and midlife upgrades of [the] Jaguar, Mirage-2000 and MiG-29 fleets [are] on the anvil to improve our combat effectiveness. The induction of force multipliers like FRAs and AWACS has enhanced our combat effectiveness. So while depleting strength is a concern, it is equally true that we have maintained our combat edge through new inductions and upgrades and the IAF is fully capable today of thwarting any threat.
(The full interview appeared in Aviation Week on Oct. 29, 2010) 
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