Rajya sabha TV UPSC (IAS)-Need to Modernise Indian Air Force

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The government urged private sector companies to develop indigenous comprehensive capabilities which would help in cutting down dependency on foreign manufacturers in defence production.

In his inaugural address at a seminar on ‘Modernisation and Indigenisation of the Indian Air Force (IAF)’, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, while praising the Indian Air Force (IAF) for striking the terrorist hubs in Pakistan, said “The recent offensive strikes against terrorist forces in our neighbourhood speak volumes about the reach and lethality of the formidable armed forces. However, the IAF needs to keep pace with the advancement in technology in order to enhance it’s operational capabilities.”

The minister stated that India remains one of the largest importers of defence equipment in the world and there is a need to cut down the dependency on foreign original manufacturers for sub-systems and components.

The minister listed out policy initiatives taken by the government to promote indigenous production of defence equipment.

Singh urged the private industry to take advantage of the policy initiatives and engage with the Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs) and Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) for meeting their indigenisation demands.

The minister also reiterated the government’s commitment to resolving any outstanding issue in the way of growth and development of Indigenous Industries in the defence sector and suggested that the industry works for long term gains.

The total production of all defence industries in the country in 2018-19 was about Rs 80,000 crore, in which the private sector defence industries contributed to the range of Rs 16,000 crore.

IAF seeks an urgent replacement for obsolete equipment

In the presence of the defence minister, the IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa while giving thumbs up to the indigenous technology stated that there is an urgent need to replace the obsolete equipment.

“It will not be prudent to import every defence equipment from abroad. The IAF is replacing our high-end obsolete weapons with indigenously developed ones and to also bridge technological gaps in the defence sector.”

The IAF has witnessed a series of fighter aircraft crashes which include the Russian MiG-21s, which have been the backbone of IAF 1963, and today the service is still left with 113 out of the 1,200 MiG-21s.

He also pointed out that the IAF continues to fly a 44-year-old aircraft as there is no other alternative yet to replace the old workhorse MiG-21. Despite this, the IAF not only protects the border with its full force but also responds to the challenges of the enemy. He added that the IAF is a professional air force, which has been recognised by the world post-Balakot attack.