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Aircraft shortage making IAF use MiG 21: Barbora

By R Dutta Choudhury

GUWAHATI, March 7 - The Indian Air Force (IAF) is facing shortage of modern aircraft, which compelled the force to keep using the old MiG 21 crafts and the Government should expedite the process of acquiring new aircraft to give more teeth to the force. This was the view expressed by Air Marshal (Retd) PK Barbora.

Talking to The Assam Tribune, Air Marshal Barbora admitted that according to an assessment, the IAF is still facing shortage of around 200 aircraft. He expressed the hope that the Government of India would seriously consider the issue and acquire new modern aircraft as soon as possible.

Air Marshal Barbora pointed out that the decision of the Government to acquire Rafale aircraft would give strength to the IAF. He said that though a decision was taken to get 126 Rafale aircraft, the Government could not expedite the process to acquire the same for the reasons best known to the people at the helm of affairs. Now, the Government has decided to get 36 Rafale aircraft and the process of getting those should be expedited.

Replying to a question on why the MiG 21 aircraft are still being used, Air Marshal Barbora said, �when you do not have options, you need to use whatever is available with you.� In this regard, he lauded the efforts of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthman, who brought down a Pakistani F 16 aircraft by using his MiG 21 Bison. He said that the F 16 is a much advanced aircraft than the MiG, but the young pilot did a fabulous job before his aircraft crashed.

Air Marshal Barbora revealed that though the avionics and weapons systems of the MiG 21 aircraft used by the IAF have been upgraded considerably, the original design of the plane is of the 1950s. But the IAF is forced to use those till date as modern aircraft is not made available to the force. On his comments on the reasons for the Government not acquiring adequate number of modern aircraft, he said that non availability of adequate funds might be one of the reasons. However, at the same time, he asserted that the Air Force has been doing a �commendable job� with the available resources and the force is competent to guard the country against any threat. He also lauded the Air Force pilots for successfully completing the operation of hitting the Jaish-e-Mohammed camps inside Pakistani territory.

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