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IAF ever-ready to meet any contingency; Rafale jets, S-400 missiles will boost capabilities: Dhanoa

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HINDON, UP (PTI): Asserting that the Indian Air Force is "ever-prepared" to meet any contingency, its chief B S Dhanoa said on Monday that the induction of 36 Rafale jets and S-400 missile systems would enhance the capabilities of the force.

Amid instances of air crashes, Air Marshal Dhanoa said aerospace safety is one area where the force needs to maintain a constant vigil as "loss of aircraft in peacetime is not only expensive, but also diminishes the wartime capability".

Efforts are being made to minimise accidents due to human error by providing best possible training to the air crew and technicians to meet the challenges of operating current generation fighters, as well as legacy aircraft and weapons systems.

"The IAF is ever prepared to meet any contingency that challenges the defence of our country. In the year gone by, IAF has continued to grow from strength to strength and achieved a number of operational milestones," Dhanoa said in his address on Air Force Day here.

He said it is the duty of the Air Force personnel to remain combat worthy and maintain combat systems operational for any contingency at a short notice.

"Acquisition of 36 Rafale aircraft, S-400 missiles systems, Apache attack helicopters and Chinook heavy lift helicopters would further enhance our capabilities," he said.

The ongoing induction of state-of-the-art Tejas precision weapons is a part of the IAF's larger modernisation programme, he noted.

India and Russia last week signed the multi-billion air missile defence system deal. The deal to buy Rafale jets was signed with France in 2016.

Dhanoa had last week termed the procurement of 36 Rafale jets and S-400 missile defence systems as the much needed "booster shots" to the Air Force.

Speaking on 'Gaganshakti', the IAF drill that saw a mobilisation of 1,4000 officers and 14,000 personnel, Dhanoa said it showcased the operational capability and readiness of the force.

During the exercise, more than 11,000 sorties were flown, including approximately 9,000 sorties by fighter aircraft, he said.

Elucidating on the role of Air Force in peacetime operations, he said during the Kerala floods this year, 23 aircraft and 25 helicopters of the IAF were pressed into the service.

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