On the 88th Anniversary of the Indian Air Force, I extend my best wishes and welcome you all to this event. As we enter the 89th year of service, the IAF is undergoing a transformational change. We are entering an era which will redefine the way we employ aerospace power and conduct integrated multi-domain operations. I feel greatly honoured to command this elite force, with extremely committed and determined air warriors who continue to strive for excellence in every mission.
This year has indeed been an unprecedented one! As the novel coronavirus spread rapidly across the globe, our nation’s response was firm and the IAF on its part, instituted various proactive measures to counter the spread of the virus and minimise the disruption in our functioning. The tenacity and resolve of our Air Warriors ensured that the IAF continued to retain its capability and capacity to undertake full scale operations throughout this period.
In fact, we deployed our transport and helicopter aircraft promptly during the lockdown, to support COVID-19 tasks pan-India as well as abroad wherein we flew almost 750 hours including many missions to bring back stranded Indians across the globe.
The evolving threat matrix in our region is becoming complex, ranging from aspirational adversaries with huge investments in military arsenal, to those collusively supported by non-state actors, apart from growing sub-conventional threats emanating from terrorism and cyber space. Disruptive technologies and easy access to low cost options such as drones, are increasingly demanding greater attention to the sub-conventional domain.
I would like to commend all warriors for the quick response, in the recent stand-off on our Northern frontiers, when we deployed our combat assets at short notice to handle any eventuality and provided proactive support to all the requirements of deployment and sustenance for the Indian Army. We have clearly demonstrated our resolve, operational capability and the will to effectively engage the adversary, should the need arise.
The emerging security scenario mandates a greater need to have a strong Air Force, to fight across domains across the entire spectrum of warfare. Our vision for this decade is to continue to comprehensively scale up our combat capability and be a force to reckon with across the entire sphere of influence; through careful force structuring, modernisation, operational training and acquisition of indigenous equipment to achieve substantial self-reliance.
The emerging security scenario mandates a greater need to have a strong Air Force, to fight across domains across the entire spectrum of warfare
The recent induction of state-of-the-art Rafale jets, Chinook and Apache helicopters, have added significantly to our combat capability over our adversaries on the battlefield. Our offensive strike capability has been honed further with up-gradations of our aircraft with weapons and sensors, ably supported by a networked decision making matrix. We have a large strategic air lift capability comprising IL-76s, C-17s & C-130s and have also significantly enhanced our heli-lift capabilities with our helicopter inductions.
With AatmaNirbhar Bharat as the bedrock, the IAF has been rapidly shifting to indigenous equipment. The LCA, ALH, Netra AEW&C, Akash Surface to Air Missile systems, ASTRA Air-to-Air Missile, BrahMos, IACCS networked environment and a range of indigenous radars, are many successes of our homeindustry, which are already operational in the IAF today. In the next few years, we will induct 83 LCA Mk1A, HTT-40 trainer aircraft, medium lift transport aircraft, many indigenous SAMs, radars and numerous weapon systems. We are fully committed to the development of 5th Generation Fighter Aircraft AMCA on our own, more AEW&Cs, UCAVs and a host of ISR options.
With the help of Private Sector, the IAF has graduated to an electronic Maintenance Management System, for all our flying platforms and combat assets. This is virtually the world’s largest such maintenance monitoring system, across various types of platforms and the numbers. Our target now is to achieve enhanced automation and paperless work flow by this year end, through projects on nearly all operational, administrative and maintenance aspects of the Indian Air Force, with the help of our indigenous industry.
For the future, we have initiated processes for developing indigenous combat systems with sixth generation technologies, including Directed Energy Weapons, Smart Wingman concept, optionally manned combat platforms, swarm drones, hypersonic weapons to name a few. The space domain is likely to become increasingly important in future years, and is being given the required thrust. I want all Air Warriors to understand the importance of the decade ahead, and work proactively towards making the Indian Air Force the engine of growth, of our indigenous Aerospace Industry.
The creation of CDS and DMA have been a landmark step towards increasing tri-service effectiveness, co-ordination and overall combat capabilities of the Armed Forces. We are working proactively towards setting up of Joint Command structures.
The formation of Air Defence Command is spearheading the envisaged tri-service Commands, and it will further optimise all available Air Defence resources and supported with a robust decision making structure, and this is at an advanced stage.
Despite the COVID constraints, the IAF carried out enhanced Air Maintenance efforts for the Indian Army, para military organisations and civil organisations, in challenging conditions. We also responded swiftly, and surely, to all calls for Humanitarian Assistance & Disaster Relief on a number of occasions. Our transport and helicopter assets have flown extensively in providing flood relief during cyclones and for airlifting relief material for our friendly foreign countries.
My congratulations to all the Air Warriors for the achievements of the IAF, which would not have been possible without your sincere and dedicated efforts. We must never forget that it is the contribution of every member as part of a cohesive team that ensures victory during war and in every mission during peace. Our culture and ethos is built around team work and this must be firmly ingrained in your mind. It will help you to overcome temptation if any, to seek personal glory, while in service or beyond.
I want our capability and culture to reflect in each Air Warrior’s actions in your walk, in your talk and in every mission that you perform. On this solemn occasion, let us all rededicate ourselves to work actively towards transforming the IAF into a force that is lean and formidable and above all, self-reliant.
The Indian Air Force is grateful for the Nation’s trust, confidence and support. On behalf of all Air Warriors, I would like to assure the nation, that the Indian Air Force will evolve and be ever ready, to safeguard our Nation’s sovereignty and interests, under all circumstances. Jai Hind!