Important to develop indigenous weapons to give jets an edge: IAF chief

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Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria said, “It is important that we don’t allow it to slip back."

Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria on Friday said that it is important that India develops indigenous weapon systems to give its fighter jets an edge.

Speaking at a seminar organised by the Centre for Air Power Studies, Bhadauria said the 36 Rafale jets India is set to receive will “alone not provide us solution for the IAF’s need”. He said India needs to be “able to use the indigenous Astra missile on the Su30s and across other fighter aircraft like the Mig-29 for better performance of air power”.

The induction of the Rafale jets will bring better capability, the Air Force chief said, adding that “in air engagement, especially in a deeply contested area, it is important to have a weapons’ edge”.

He said the Indian Air Force had the edge over the Pakistan Air Force “in terms of Beyond Visual Range Missile capability at the time of Kargil” war, but “we allowed that to slip and thereafter it took a decade and half in our struggle to acquisition process to be able to get better capability”.

He stressed that once India regains the edge, “it is important that we don’t allow it to slip back”.

He said if India has not been able to “work towards developing an indigenous weapons system”, then “the focus has been in the wrong place”. He added that India should “focus on the requirements and have this edge in terms of weapons and technology” as it is only then that “you can provide this edge to aircraft fleet”. Talking about Balakot airstrikes, Bhadauria said “use of air force was a major paradigm shift”, which was not thought possible earlier, even during the Kargil conflict.

On Pakistan’s response some 30 hours later, he said that “it was fundamentally tailored to disengage”, and that “the retort was designed primarily to demonstrate action taken for their domestic audience”.