To have advanced jets, induct radars for more firepower

Immediate plans to bolster the firepower of the Indian Air Force (IAF) along the northern borders include upgrade of airbases, Sukhoi-30MKI jets and Mi 17 copters, besides induction of fighter jets, new radars, surveillance planes and armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

What’s in the offing

IAF looking at landing grounds, one in Eastern Ladakh
Planning multiple helipads along the Himalayas
More planes for intelligence surveillance, reconnaissance
Specialised surface-to-air guided weapons for high altitude

The IAF Chief, Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari, while speaking at United Services Institution, a think tank, yesterday listed out the priorities, threats and how the force was adapting to these.

As part of the upgrade, sources said, the IAF was looking at landing grounds, including one in Eastern Ladakh and multiple helipads along the Himalayas.

More planes were needed for intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance and also specialised surface-to-air guided weapons for high altitude.

The IAF Chief said the Mi-17 fleet of copters was being upgraded. He said the IAF was leading the tri-services’ procurement of 127 indigenous UAVs that could fly at medium altitude (about 25,00 ft) while the Navy was leading the tri-services’ plan for high altitude (over 50,000 ft) UAVs. On procurement of missiles, the IAF Chief said they were in advanced stages of negotiations over the “Hammer, Mistral, Spike and Spice” missiles. On the much-discussed two-front war with China and Pakistan, the IAF chief said China was itself “two-front”. He possibly meant about threats in the east and north, both fronts separated by hundreds of kilometres. On the western front the “no war, no peace” situation was likely to continue, the IAF chief said.