Vice Chief Air Marshal Sandeep Singh stated that India's relations with both Russia and the United States have remained strong

Vice Chief Air Marshal Sandeep Singh on Wednesday said that the US sanctions against Russia will not significantly affect the Indian Air Force.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) will not be significantly impacted by the US sanctions on Russia and India’s relations with both countries remain strong, Vice Chief Air Marshal Sandeep Singh said on Wednesday. However, the IAF will face difficulties for a month or two in getting spare parts for its defence equipment from Russia to India, he added.

About 70 per cent of Indian defence equipment is of Russian origin.

After Vladimir Putin started a military offensive against Ukraine on February 24, various western countries — including the US — have decided to block assets of four large Russian banks, impose export controls and sanction oligarchs close to the Russian president.

“We know the geopolitical situation is difficult [currently] Our relations with Russia will continue,” Singh said at a press briefing here.

He said that things are still unfolding geopolitically.

“Our position is very strong and our relations with both the countries [Russia and the US] have remained (strong) and you have seen that,” he noted.

“We are evaluating the situation. There will be certain difficulties, there is no doubt about it. But I think it should not affect us too much. I am confident that it won’t affect us significantly,” he added.

On the issue of supply of spare parts from Russia to India, he replied there is no doubt there will be difficulties for a month or two.

Singh said, “There are sanctions but we have gone through similar issues earlier and maybe, this would be more serious than that I think it will not affect us critically and I hope for it also.” The IAF is aiming for 100 per cent indigenisation of the spare parts and components, he noted.

“It will take time to reach the 100 per cent mark,” he mentioned.

Singh said the defence ministry and the IAF itself have set a very aggressive timeline to reach the 100 per cent mark. He said there is no doubt that in the coming years, the IAF will have majority of its systems indigenously designed and produced.

The final aim is that you have to be self-reliant, he added.

Three aircraft have departed to evacuate stranded citizens, the IAF vice chief said. “We can operate four aircraft per day to evacuate Indians,” he mentioned.

Singh stated the evacuation operations will run round the clock till all Indians are brought back.

The IAF has experience of running various such evacuation programs — the most recent one was conducted in Afghanistan, he noted.

When asked how many military transport planes An-32 have been upgraded by Ukraine till now, Singh replied this aircraft fleet has been upgraded to a large extent.

“The upgrade of An-32 aircraft was affected before too when Ukraine was under pressure due to the Crimean issue in 2014 and 2015,” he noted.

After that, the IAF has significantly indigenised many of the spare parts that needed to be upgraded by Ukraine, he added.