IAF has started to upgrade its fleet

Updated: May 31 2007, 05:30am hrs
Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major, who became the first helicopter pilot to don the mantle of the Chief of Indian Air Staff on April 1, says that his thrust would be on shoring up the falling fighter strength of the country and also pushing up the pace of modernisation in the force. Following are excerpts from his exclusive interview with FE

What are your plans on modernising the Indian Air Force

IAF has started upgrading its combat aircraft fleet since the last few years in order to enhance its operational capability and to retain the relevance of its aircraft as contemporary weapon platform, capable of meeting the challenges posed by the security scenario in our region. While MiG-21, MiG-27 and Jaguar aircraft have already been upgraded, enhancement of Mirage-2000 and MiG-29 is being planned. The upgrade is essentially on the radar, avionics and weapon systems. Contracts for upgrade of the Su-30 MKI aircraft, as per provisions of the initial contract for the Su-30K, have been concluded.

Also, IAF is considering to upgrade its medium-lift helicopters comprising the Mi-8, Mi-17 and Mi-17-IVs, with the aim of improving their all-weather capability, enabling tactical night flying, improving armament capability and providing better battlefield survivability. Upgrade of the IL-76 transport aircraft with new engines and modern avionics is also being planned.

The civil aviation ministry has accused the IAF for not sharing/giving enough air space for civil purposes. What is your take on this issue

The IAF has always been accommodative to the requirements of civil aviation. As far as sharing of airspace is concerned, it was the IAF which initiated the concept of flexible use of airspace and had taken up with civil aviation for its consideration and implementation.