STATE TIMES NEWS
NEW DELHI: The situation that developed in eastern Ladakh last year required acclimatisation of a large number of IAF personnel and stretching of equipment to limits, but the force is “much better prepared” now in case there is a “long haul”, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari said on Thursday.In an interaction at a defence conclave here, he also said it was a matter of concern that depleting number of fighters is continuous, whereas the induction is some way off, and asserted that it should be ensured that drawdown of fighter squadron is quickly compensated by new induction, so “we don’t lose our overall capabilities”.
We shouldn’t expect favourable outcome in every round of border talks with China: Army Chief
NEW DELHI: India should not expect favourable outcome in every round of talks being held with China to settle border issues and “points of divergence” with the neighbouring country will be resolved as long as both the nations keep talking, Army Chief General M M Naravane said on Thursday. “There were 4-5 points of friction (between India and China during the border talks) and we have resolved all but one. I am sure in another couple of rounds — I can’t give a definitive figure whether one more or two more — we will be able to resolve these issues also as we proceed,” Gen Naravane said.Earlier this month, India and China failed to make any headway in resolving the 17-month standoff in the remaining friction points in eastern Ladakh during the 13th round of military talks between the two countries.The Indian Army had on October 11 stated the “constructive suggestions” made by it at the 13th round of military talks were neither agreeable to the Chinese side nor Beijing could provide any “forward-looking” proposals.In an interaction at a defence conclave here, the Army Chief said that the situation at the eastern Ladakh border with China is better and more stable now from what existed almost a year ago.India and China have had a number of rounds of talks and as a result of those talks, we have been able to achieve a fair amount of disengagement, he added.“What I would like to put across is that we should not expect a favourable outcome in every round of talks. There are always going to be some points of convergence, some differences,” he said.“As long as we keep talking, we will be able to resolve those points of divergence and come closer and closer together and by and by resolve all the issues that are there,” the Army Chief said.The current border standoff between the Indian and Chinese armies erupted in May last year following a violent clash in the Pangong lake area. Both sides gradually enhanced their deployment by rushing in tens of thousands of soldiers as well as heavy weaponry.Gen Naravane said the talks and the interlocutions with China are taking place at the political plane, at the diplomatic level and at the military level.“So once all of this is put together and I am sure we will be able to come up with a satisfactory resolution. And when I say satisfactory, it has to be satisfactory for both the sides and I am confident that will happen sooner or later,” he said.He asserted that the Indian Army was not for a moment letting its guard down or imagining that things can not worsen in the future.“It is always our hope that all the differences can be resolved through dialogues and discussions but if that is not there and if the situation is forced upon us, then we are always ready to man our borders and protect our territorial integrity and sovereignty and that is a year-round affair,” he said.“It is not as if it is only during the summer months…we are 24×7 always ready to take on whatever is thrown at us,” he added.As a result of a series of military and diplomatic talks, India and China completed the disengagement process in the Gogra area in August and in the north and south banks of the Pangong lake in February.As far as the last year or so is concerned, the two Cs — China and COVID-19 — did take up most of the Indian Army’s time, the Army Chief said.“Because of the challenges that were happening on the eastern Ladakh, we did have to mobilise a large number of forces in a very short time span but we were able to achieve that once again because of very good synergy between services,” he said.He also thanked the Indian Air Force because of whom the Indian Army were able to mobilise forces in a short span to eastern Ladakh.“I think it is the speed of our mobilisation and the speed with which we could induct forces over such difficult terrain and such difficult climatic conditions….that caught our adversary little bit by surprise and we were able to stabilise the situation,” he said.
On a question on the eastern Ladakh situation last year, he said that in the last one year, due to the challenges faced in the harsh atmosphere of the region, “we have realised, where we fell short” whether it was in terms of adequate clothing, shelters for people to live there.“The situation that developed in eastern Ladakh last year was something that we were not very familiar with, particularly in the kind of environment that we needed to operate. It required acclimatisation of a large number of personnel at short notice, required stretching our equipment to limits, which some of it were not cleared for,” he said.The IAF chief said, “We have moved equipment to altitude, well above the altitudes they were tried and tested for, when we acquired those systems.”Following the escalation in tension in eastern Ladakh in mid-June last year, the IAF deployed almost all its frontline fighter jets like Sukhoi 30 MKI, Jaguar and Mirage 2000 aircraft as well as its attack helicopters in the key air bases in eastern Ladakh and elsewhere along the Line of Actual Control.At the conclave held at the Constitution Club of India, the IAF chief, in response to a question, also shared other challenges faced by the air force in the region.There was also the challenge of continuously rotating the manpower, to take care of their health, he said.“As a result, over the last one year, we have realised, where we fell short, whether it was in terms of adequate clothing, shelters for people to live there. So, we have overcome all those shortages now, and I think, we are better prepared, in case there is a long haul, we are prepared this winter, much better than what we were last year,” he said.During the 89th IAF Day speech at Hindon Airbase on October 8, Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari had asserted that the IAF’s prompt actions in response to developments in eastern Ladakh last year were a testament to its combat readiness.The year gone by was “quite challenging yet extremely rewarding”, he had said.In response to another question on threats faced by India, he said, “I can assure you that we are fully aware of the threats that we face, and our acquisitions, training, and tactics developed to counter such a threat”.“I can say with some degree of confidence that the way we go about analysing the threat perception, carrying out global scan of the political situation, of the acquisitions and modernisation of the adversaries, and to counter that we plan are our own acquisition for air force, and linked to that is training, and development of new tactics,” he said.He also spoke about the contract signed with state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited to deliver 83 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas aircraft to the IAF.“We are in the process of acquiring 12 additional Su-30s, 21 additional MiG-29s. And, we have placed our trust and given our commitment in acquiring the AMCA, and beginning next decade, we will probably start inducting the AMCA (next-generation advanced multi-role combat aircraft),” the IAF chief added.He also mentioned about the 56 C-295 medium transport aircraft which will replace Avro-748 planes of the IAF.“The vision of being Atmanirbhar has been enunciated. And, we are very clear on the future course planning, to be based largely on indigenous efforts… This is where I find there is a large scope for the Indian industry to stand up and meet the challenges, to meet our requirements,” he added.He said that the IAF has upgraded some of the foreign platforms like MiG-21, MiG-29 the Jaguar, but “we are now focussing on procuring and upgrading most of the systems within the country”.Also, to add, when it comes to ground system, almost every radar that is operating on ground, is made in India or is largely made in India, the IAF chief said.On planned theaterisation, he said, “We have proposed some alternative models that can capitalise on the three aspects, strengths of three forces, reducing decision-making cycles, and being future-ready.”Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari said he was “satisfied” with the quality of intake of airmen and officers, adding, as they pass out, “we ensure that personnel are quite future-ready and capable of handling high technology and understanding network and data”.
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