SHILLONG, Oct 6 - Eastern Air Command (EAC) Chief Air Marshal Raghunath Nambiar today said that the Rafale is an �excellent� aircraft with �huge capabilities� and its induction into the Air Force would be a �game changer�, especially in the North East.
Speaking on the sidelines of an Air Fest organised at Upper Shillong, Air Marshal Nambiar said: �I flew the Rafale last week in France. It is an excellent aircraft and a very good platform� highly capable.�
Stating that Rafale can be a �game changer�, Air Marshal Nambiar added that the Rafale would be inducted in the EAC next year and it would operate from the Hasimara Air Force Base in West Bengal.
�Hasimara is close to Assam, east of Bagdogra and its presence in this area will give us a lot of deterrence and provide us with a huge modicum of capability which never existed in this part of the world,� the EAC Chief said.
Stressing the importance of the North Eastern region for the Indian Air Force, Air Marshal Nambiar said �roughly 30 per cent of the assets of the Air Force are based in the North East. So you can imagine how important the area is for all of us.�
Downplaying the China factor in the region, he said: �We don�t keep forces for any particular country as such. It is for our capability. We have five countries in the EAC � one of them is China. This capability is for India and not for any country,� he said.
Air Marshal Nambiar added that most EAC units are getting modern platforms which include the Rafale, Chinook and Apache helicopters.
�This Command is getting new induction of equipment. Our challenge lies in getting these new inductions in a timely fashion, improving training capability and capacity and also absorbing these new platforms and learning modern technology and best practices prevalent all over the world,� he said.
On ongoing projects related to Advanced Landing Grounds (ALGs), he said that except the Vijaynagar ALG, all other recently commissioned ALGs are now functional in the region. �The problem in developing the Vijaynagar ALG is that there is no road connectivity to take the materials required to build the ALG. So it is taking some time,� Air Marshal Nambiar said.