The Indian Air Force (IAF) is “very much alive” to emerging threats that could arise in the Indo-Pacific region, Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa said on Sunday, saying the force was prepared to deal with any challenge to protect India’s national interests.
He said there was cause for concern over the rate of modernisation and induction of new equipment in India’s neighbourhood, even as the nation faced challenges emanating from “unresolved territorial disputes” and “sponsored” non-state and transnational actors. But the IAF was capable of, and was moving ahead, for countering them effectively, he told PTI in an interview.
Asked if the IAF could 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 equipped to take on threats which occur from across the border, be it in the realm of sub-conventional or other domains,” he said.
Referring to India’s immediate security challenges, without naming China and Pakistan, he said, “The current 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 said. Mr. Dhanoa made an indirect reference to China’s rapid modernisation of its Air Force, and about the infrastructure development Beijing had carried out in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) bordering India.
“The IAF is well equipped to take on challenges across the entire range of threats that could emanate from across our borders. While there is a cause for concern as regards the rate of modernisation and induction of new equipment in our neighbourhood, the IAF is, nevertheless, moving ahead with appropriate measures to cater to these new developments,” the Air Chief Marshal said.
Asked if the IAF was capable of playing a role to expand India’s geopolitical influence in the Indo-Pacific region, he said: “We have the second largest fleet of C-17s in the world. Therefore, India will pull its heft in helping out friendly nations in times of human distress and humanitarian relief. In addition, the IAF is very much alive to the emerging threats that could arise in the Indo-Pacific region.”
At present, the IAF has a fleet of 10 C-17 Globemasters, used for strategic airlift missions, transporting troops, and cargo for long-range missions.
The U.S. has been pushing for a greater 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.