New technologies and combat capabilities driving a monumental transformation in the Air Force, says Air Chief Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria

Published : June 19, 2021 21:00 IST

Indian Air Force cadets celebrate after their combined graduation ceremony at the Air Force Academy in Dundigal, on June 19. Photo: MAHESH KUMAR A./AP

The Air Force Academy (AFA), the Indian Air Force’s premier training institution at Dundigal in Telangana, has achieved a significant milestone by clocking over 20,500 flying hours over the past 12 months, the highest in the Academy’s long and distinguished history. The fact that it has come amid the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic makes it all the more creditable.

The Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria disclosed this at the Combined Graduation Parade (CGP) at the AFA on June 19, where he was the chief guest. He complimented the faculty at the AFA and the other training establishments that are part of the IAF’s training command “for guiding, mentoring and teaching not only the fundamentals of being a military leader, but also instilling in the young officers the IAF’s core values of ‘Mission, Integrity and Excellence’.

A total of 161 flight cadets of the IAF’s flying and ground duty branches were conferred the President’s Commission by the Air Chief. He also conferred ‘wings’ to six officers from the Indian Navy and five from the Indian Coast Guard who successfully completed their flying training.

Addressing the parade, the Chief of the Air Staff reminded the young officers that they were entering the IAF at a juncture when a rapid infusion of new technologies and combat capabilities was driving a monumental transformation in the Force. Said the Air Chief: “I have always believed that the generation you belong to is technologically adept and well versed with exploiting the digital space.”

Highlighting the numerous changes in operational methodologies and functioning of the Air Force, the Air Chief stressed that operationalisation of automation and networking of projects was at the top of the agenda. He exhorted the young officers to hit the ground running and prove their mettle, and to fully exploit the IAF’s state-of-art-aircraft, weapon systems, sensors and technologies.

He said niche technologies and combat power had never been as intense as they were now, and were needed to meet the security challenges facing the country. He added that the role of air power was crucial in any conflict and the IAF was prepared to meet those challenges.

Speaking to the media, Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria stated the deployment of forces in view of China’s posturing in the Galwan Valley and other regions along the LAC and the changing geopolitical situation in neighbouring countries such as Afghanistan would be based on the need at the ground level. That need, he stressed, was being closely monitored.

Commenting on the current situation on the Ladakh front, the Air Chief said that disengagement plans on the friction points were progressing through 11 rounds of talks. He added that the continuation of deployment of forces would depend on the ground situation. He said basic deployment would continue in order to maintain security and added that as far as the IAF was concerned, it had the capability to deploy at short notice as per requirements.

Commenting on the series of accidents involving the MiG-21s, Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria said that the incidents were not due to ageing aircraft alone and that grounding all aircraft was not the answer. Explaining that the MiG-21s had undergone an upgrade between 2005 and 2010, and that the current accident rate had remained approximately the same, the Air Chief said the MiG-21s would be replaced over the next few years in a phased manner.