GUWAHATI, July 26 - Induction of Rafale jets will definitely give more teeth to the Indian Air Force (IAF) and one unit of the fighter jets is scheduled to be deployed in the Hasimara Air Force base to cater to the need in the East and North East region, said former Vice Chief of the IAF, Air Marshal (Retd) PK Barbora. He also said that the Air Force now has adequate assets in the North East to protect the country in case of any eventuality.
It may be mentioned here that the process of induction of Rafale jets in the IAF is scheduled to start on July 29 and in the first phase, five jets would be inducted in the Ambala base of the Air Force.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, Air Marshal Barbora expressed the view that the Rafale jets would be very good assets for the country in the days to come because of its technological aspects and those are better than what China and Pakistan have at this moment. He said that though IAF pilots have been trained on the new aircraft, it would take three to six months for the Rafale jets to become fully operational depending on the urgency that the country faces in the days to come.
Air Marshal Barbora said that in recent times, the assets of the Air Force have been distributed all over the country with proper planning and threat perception and that is why, the decision to deploy one unit of the Rafale at Hasimara was taken.
He said that with proper distribution of its assets all over the country, the Air Force is now ready to counter any threat in any part of the country including the North East.
When asked to compare the quality of the pilots of the IAF with those of China and Pakistan, Air Marshal Barbora said that Indian pilots are comparable to the best in the world. In recent times, pilots of the IAF got very good exposure by participating in joint exercises in countries like United States, Britain, France, Middle East countries, Singapore etc. �I have no clue about the quality of the pilots of China because they have not been tested for a long time, while, pilots of the IAF gave very good account of themselves against those of Pakistan when they clashed following the Balakot incident, which forced the Pakistanis to flee without causing any damage to India,� he added.
Replying to a question on whether the IAF has been able to augment the number of its aircraft to the sanctioned strength, Air Marshal Barbora said that the strength of the squadrons varies from time to time due to various reasons. But it is a fact that the IAF still does not have its full sanctioned strength. He expressed the view that procuring modern aircraft is a costly business and huge amounts of money are required for it. Citing an example, he said that initially India decided to procure 126 Rafale aircraft but later had to reduce the number to 36 because of the cost involved.
Air Marshal Barbora also said that India should augment its surveillance and intelligence gathering mechanism to ensure that �we are not caught unawares by the Chinese in any part of the international border in the days to come.�