Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari, speaking at the General BC Joshi Memorial Lecture 2023 held at Savitribai Phule Pune University, underscored the notable progress of the 'Atmanirbhar campaign', highlighting the forthcoming indigenous production of previously imported weaponry slated for integration within the Indian Air Force (IAF).

"Aatmanirbhar campaign is gaining ground. We are now proud of being able to host a whole lot of weapons...Most of the weapons that were imported are now going to be made in India and integrated with our Indian Air Force aircraft," remarked Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari.

Localising Weapons Systems: Transforming IAF Capabilities

Delving into specifics, Chaudhari illuminated the ongoing transformation, emphasising the localisation of critical weapon systems and their subcomponents, both imported and domestically developed. This inclusive list comprised the Akash missile, MR-SAM, S-400, close-in weapon systems, and Very Short Range Air Defence system (VSHORAD). Additionally, he highlighted the initiative's purpose: to fortify the IAF's capabilities in response to the emerging threat posed by drones.

Strategic Vision For A Contemporary Air Force

The Air Chief also expounded on the 'Transformation of IAF into a contemporary and Future-ready aerospace force'. He elaborated on the IAF's strategic vision, aligning it with the latest edition of the IAF's doctrine (2023), explaining the current objective as the creation of an ‘agile and adaptable’ force capable of providing decisive aerospace power in the service of national interests. He stressed the imperative to “See First and See the Farthest, Reach First and Reach the Fastest, Hit First and Hit the Hardest.”

Furthermore, Chaudhari underscored the pivotal role played by the IAF in nation-building efforts. He cited the force's instrumental contributions during Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief operations and evacuations from conflict zones, exemplifying the force's commitment beyond traditional defence roles.

Embracing Technological Advancements For Enhanced Capabilities

In the pursuit of augmented operational capabilities, the Air Chief highlighted the integration of advanced technologies, focusing on airborne and unmanned platforms, sensors, communication systems, and electronic warfare. He emphasised the significance of well-trained personnel, acknowledging the complexities of a technology-driven battle space.

Moreover, Chaudhari emphasised the IAF's investments in innovation and disruptive training programs. These endeavours leverage technology infusion for skill development, ensuring readiness for future multi-domain operations. He reiterated the IAF's commitment to automating operational, maintenance, and administrative processes using AI and big data analytics to enhance efficiency.

Adapting To The Evolving Battle Space

The Air Chief elaborated on the IAF's dedication to fostering strategic partnerships with friendly nations. He stressed joint exercises, information-sharing mechanisms, and collaborations to augment operational effectiveness. Underlining integration and jointness between services, he highlighted initiatives aimed at joint logistics, interoperability, and joint ISR, reflecting the IAF's pursuit of a comprehensive national strategy.

Chaudhari also emphasised the IAF's proactive engagement with academia, start-ups, and industry to drive technological advancements. This aligns with India's broader defence objectives focused on self-reliance and in-house Research and Development.

Concluding his address, Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari the imperative to revamp traditional war-fighting machinery. He urged a reimagining and redesigning of strategies to align with the evolving battle space, characterised by clutter, congestion, contestation, and complexity.