New Delhi: Underscoring the need for an upgrade in the force, IAF chief Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa said on Wednesday that, “Both Rafale and S-400 air defence missile system deals are like a booster dose.” Dhanoa was addressing the press at a briefing in the national capital on Wednesday. While the Rafale deal has been marred by controversy, Dhanoa clearly batted for the aircraft as he insisted that it was a good deal and “we have got a good package, got a lot of advantages in Rafale deal.” (Also read: S-400 Purchase a Significant Deal, Says US)
As far as the S-400 missile deal is concerned, it has been under the cloud because of the US threat of sanctions if India went ahead with procuring the Soviet missiles. However, latest reports have suggested that the deal would be inked when Russian President Vladimir Putin visits India on Thursday. He added that 24 months from the time the deal is inked, S-400 missiles will be delivered. “As and when the government approves it, delivery will be in 24 months,” he said.
He also sought to put to rest all charges on why HAL wasn’t part of the Rafale deal by explaining how the PSU has been lax in delivery. “There has been a delay in the delivery schedule in contracts already executed to HAL. There is a three-year delay in delivery of Sukhoi-30, six-year delay in Jaguar, five-year delay in LCA, and a two-year delay in delivery of Mirage 2000 upgrade.”
He said, “The Government took a bold step and bought 36 Rafale aircraft. A high performance, high-tech aircraft has been to the given to the air force to offset the capability of the adversary…We had reached an impasse. We had three options, first was either to wait for something to happen, withdraw RFP or do an emergency purchase. We did an emergency purchase.” Dhanoa has insisted, time and again, how there have been similar emergency acquisitions in the past as well.
On the infrastructural development in China and how India viewed it, the IAF chief said, “We’re watching infrastructure developments (in China). They (China) have been saying that airports are coming up for regional connectivity. We have a plan to counter that. We’re also developing infrastructure. Fifty Chinese aircraft in Tibet is not a threat.”
He also added that the number of depleting squadrons was a cause of concern for the forces.