'India's neighbourhood a volcano waiting to erupt'
Describing the current security scene in India's neighbourhood as "a volcano", Air Chief Marshal P V Naik on Friday said it could "erupt" anytime and asked the air warriors to be "prepared and vigilant" to meet any eventuality.
"Current security scenario is like a volcano and may test your skills anytime without warning. These times require swift action and commitment," Naik said, addressing the 78th Air Force Day parade in New Delhi.
Noting there were no fresh developments that prompted him to describe the situation as "volcanic", he later told media persons that the comparison was because, "we don't know when it is going to erupt. It may erupt in 100 years or it may erupt tomorrow, that is why."
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Photographs: Courtesy Indian Air Force
'Speed of response is key to success'
Pointing out that the mantle of keeping the country secure from any external threat was on armed forces' shoulders, he said, "This is the very reason for our existence."
"As an air force, our operational preparedness has to remain high owing to complexity and intensity of threats. Speed of response, flexibility and precise employment of aerospace assets will be the key to success," he said.
Flagging the primacy of operations be it while safeguarding borders, supporting security forces or disaster relief, the Air Force chief called upon the air warriors to be "proactive" from planning to completion of operations in all respects.
"Today I stand here to call upon you to be more vigilant and thorough in whatever you are doing in the IAF," he said.
'IAF will be a potent aerospace power in 5-7 years'
Listing 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft, flight refueling aircraft, airborne early warning and control systems, helicopters and transport aircraft as future acquisitions, he said, "the IAF is going to be a very potent aerospace power in the next five to seven years."
The Air Chief said IAF's "performance and commitment" had increased with the nation's expectations. He also asked the IAF personnel to "meticulously use the existing capabilities and ensure the transition towards modernisation is smooth without impinging on our operational efficiency."
Unfolding his vision for IAF's future, Naik said, "The IAF must be capable of dominating the entire spectrum of information, airspace and cyberspace where we can conduct operations in the future on our own terms.
'IAF trying to obtain net-centric capabilities'
"The IAF today is on the threshold of becoming a dynamic aerospace power with sophisticated, specialist weapons, unchallenged strategic reconnaissance and airlift capability, comprehensive air defence systems... With this healthy mix, I am sure we will be able to accomplish our assignments with speed and precision," he said.
Referring to the recent operationalisation of Air Force Network (AFNET), Naik said the IAF's efforts at obtaining net centric capabilities had fructified in record time.
"AFNET will form the backbone of our capabilities. You all have already started exploiting its tremendous potential. I am sure it is going to change the very manner in which we conduct our operations," he said.
The Air Force chief said while new inductions would follow one after another, "legacy systems" would have to carry on.
'Great responsibility lies with all of us'
"Great responsibility lies with all of us to ensure that while we absorb new technology, we continue operating all our current systems effectively and efficiently," he said.
"While no compromise will be made to our operational preparedness, we need to ensure that our initiatives are properly complemented with financial prudence," he added.
Earlier this week, Naik had said that half of IAF's assets, particular in the Air Defence domain, were in the process of obsolescence and had said it was a matter of concern.
On the welfare measures for personnel, Naik on Friday said he had personally taken up the issue of Military Service Pay for non-combatants of the IAF for which a response from Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee was awaited.
Surya Kirans thrill the audience
He noted that the government had accepted the IAF's proposal for modifying the assured career progression plan for its personnel.
'Surya Kirans' on their nine Kiran MkII HJT-16s trainer aircraft and the 'Sarangs' flying four Advanced Light Helicopter 'Dhruv' displayed scintillating aerobatics.
'Akash Ganga' para-jumpers and the Air Force Drill Team enthralled the gathering at the Air Force Day parade.
Others to witness the show were Marshal of Air Force Arjan Singh, IAF vice chief Air Marshal P K Barbora and Western Air Command chief Air Marshal N A K Browne and other senior officers.