Chief of Air Staff Address on Air Force Day Parade, October 8, 2022. The theme for this year’s anniversary celebrations was “IAF: Transforming for the Future”
Former Chiefs, Air Marshal Prabhakaran, AOC-in-C, Western Air Command, Senior Officers from the three services and MoD, Esteemed Veterans, Air Warriors on parade, distinguished guests, members of the Media, Ladies and Gentlemen.
On the 90th Anniversary of the Indian Air Force, I extend my best wishes and welcome you all, to this event.
In a break from tradition, we have decided to conduct the AF Day parade at Chandigarh this year and in different locations across the country from here onwards. I would like to compliment the AOC-in-C, WAC, AOC Adv HQ Chandimandir, AOCs of 12 Wg, 3 BRD and their team for putting up such a befitting show in such a short time. My compliments also to the Parade Commander and all Air Warriors on parade for your immaculate turn out, precise drill movements, astute military bearing and josh. Good Show and Well Done!
We have inherited a proud legacy curated by the sheer hard work, perseverance and vision of our predecessors. It will only be right to acknowledge the contributions of our veterans who have charted this course and now, the onus is on us to usher the Air Force into the centenary decade. My salute to the former chiefs for steering the Air Force in the right direction and my assurance to them that I, ably supported by all Air Warriors, will lead the Air Force to scale even greater heights.
On behalf of all Air Warriors, I would like to pay homage to our fallen braves, who made the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty. Today is an occasion to renew our allegiance to the Constitution of India and as preservers of the integrity and sovereignty of our country, we owe it to our future generations.
On this historic occasion, it is my privilege to announce that the Government has approved the creation of a Weapon System Branch for Officers in the IAF. This is the first time since independence that a new operational branch is being created. This will essentially be for manning of four specialised streams of Surface to Surface missiles, Surface to Air Missiles, Remotely Piloted Aircraft and Weapon System Operators in twin and multi crew aircraft. Creation of this branch would result in savings of over 3,400 crores due to reduced expenditure on flying training.
Induction of Air Warriors into the IAF through the Agnipath scheme is a challenge for all us, but more importantly, it is an opportunity for us to harness the potential of India’s youth and channelise it towards the service of the nation. We have changed our operational training methodology to ensure each Agniveer is equipped with the right skills and knowledge to start their career in the Air Force. In December this year, we would be inducting 3,000 Agniveer Vayu for their initial training. This number will only go up in the years to come to ensure adequate staffing. We are also planning on induction of Women Agniveers starting next year. Creation of infrastructure is in progress and streamlining of trade structure is being finalised.
In the last one year, we have had our share of challenges and the Air Force has taken these challenges head on and with all guns blazing. Continued deployment along our borders, HADR operations or rescuing stranded Indians from conflict zones, we have seen the entire spectrum of roles and tasks laid down for the Air Force being undertaken. We are well and truly prepared to take on everything that comes our way and the credit for it goes to all of you.
The traditional domains of land, sea and air have expanded to include space and cyber. We are increasingly seeing the convergence of all these domains into one continuum in the form of Hybrid Warfare. The use of non-kinetic and nonlethal warfare to supplement kinetic means has changed the way wars will be prosecuted. Therefore, conventional systems and weapons will need to be augmented by modern, flexible and adaptive technology. Technology has given us the wherewithal to be innovative. We need to accept the fact that tomorrow’s conflicts cannot be fought with yesterday’s mind-set. To be able to execute all missions in an environment of denial will increasingly be the basis of our training in the Air Force.
Keeping this in mind, there is a need to plan for integrated and joint application of combat power. The key to success in multi-domain operations is to have flexible, robust and redundant Command and Control Structures which will allow a joint force to dominate across domains. No single service can win a war on its own. Work is in progress to enhance jointness amongst the three services.
The theme for this year’s anniversary celebrations - “IAF: Transforming for the Future”, is very apt and highlights the Indian Air Force’s need to redefine, reimagine and recalibrate to transform into a contemporary and future ready force.
Our fighting potential has to be sustained over the years through the induction of 4.5 Gen fighters, AWACS, AEW&C and Flight refuelling aircraft. We have initiated necessary steps to ensure our fighter squadron strength remains at the desired level. Indigenous development of six AEW&C Mk-II has been sanctioned and we are actively pursuing the acquisition of ISTAR, UAVs, Counter UAS technology and strengthening our networks.
Modern armed forces have to be sufficiently self-reliant to ensure minimum disruptions. Towards this, Atmanirbharta and Make in India is a step in the right direction. Our indigenous operational network AFNET, the back bone of all air operations IACCS, one of the largest maintenance management protocols e-MMS and the fact that we are completely paper less in our offices through the e-Office application is a testimony to our commitment towards becoming self-reliant. The LCA, ALH, Akash surface to air missile, Astra BVR, LCH and Brahmos are a few examples of the indigenous hardware that has already been inducted and operationalised. We have signed a contract for 83 LCA Mk 1A and are fully committed to the development of LCA Mk-II and the AMCA.
The advent of drones, swarm drones, hypersonic weapons and space based ISR systems have added a new dimension to war fighting. To effectively handle the full spectrum, artificial intelligence is being used for quicker decision making and analysis of big data. I am happy to report that several projects are well underway to utilise the potential of Automation, Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence to transform our operational philosophy.
The growth and success of any organisation revolves around its personnel. Irrespective of the years of experience or position, each one of us is a vital link in the organisation. We need to recognise our importance in the chain and understand that what we do every day at the work place matters. A smart and efficient day’s work will instill pride in our job. Our aim should be to match or surpass modern industry standards in operations, maintenance and administration. As an organisation, we need to incorporate the principle of continuous process improvement at our work place. This can only be achieved through critical problem identification, understanding the root causes and providing workable solutions to eliminate waste. We must focus on multi-skilling and multi-tasking to create a smart working environment and enhance efficiency. This is only possible if we build on our experiences and develop innovative thinking. There is tremendous scope for change and Change We Must, to evolve and be relevant.
The challenge I pose to you all today is to transform into forward thinking and forward-looking air warriors, who can support our process of adapting to a constantly changing environment. I call upon every air warrior to be a part of the solution by your creativity, innovative thinking and drive to lead the change. I promise you good leadership, a good working environment and the best equipment that we can muster. I want you to have faith and confidence in your abilities and the resolve to do the impossible. I want you to display exceptional courage and fortitude, to have compassion for your subordinates and most importantly, be good professionals.
As we celebrate 90 years of professional excellence, it is incumbent on us to preserve our past and accurately record the present so that future generations of the IAF benefit from it. The culture and traditions of the Air Force have led us to excel in our profession, but remember that while we have to preserve those elements of our culture that strengthen the Air Force, we must be prepared to shed those that are barriers to efficiency and mission accomplishment.
I congratulate all of you for the successes of IAF which would not have been possible without your collective, sincere and dedicated efforts as a team. As we start a new chapter in the history of the IAF, our aim should be to sustain our capabilities as a fearless and potent force and maintain a cohesive happy family. I have no doubt that your commitment and your collective capacity to achieve excellence will take IAF to even greater heights in the year ahead.
On behalf of my wife Neeta, I would like to congratulate everyone on the 90th anniversary of the Indian Air Force and may the IAF always Touch the Sky with Glory. Thank You and Jai Hind!!
Chief of the Air Staff address on IAF day is courtesy IAF