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Indian Air Force planning joint exercises with China

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File photo of Air Chief Marshall Fali Homi Major

NAGPUR (PTI): A joint exercise of Indian Air Force (IAF) with its Chinese counterparts has been planned in the near future as part of building strong ties with Republic of China, Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major, the Chief of Air Staff of IAF, who recently paid a visit to the neighbouring country, said on Monday.

“My recent visit to China was a successful one and had useful discussions with the counterpart there and have planned a joint Air Force exercise in the near future which will be the first of such kind with China,” Fali Homi Major told a press conference.

“Though no schedule has been drawn right now but it may take sooner or later, the Air Chief said adding that Chinese Army was coming for joint Army exercise in December in Belgaum. The 'Surya Kiran' aircraft team displayed an excellent aerobatic show there during the visit,” he added.

On acquisition of 126 fighter aircraft for IAF, he said the process is on and the flight evaluation will take place shortly before final induction of these planes.

Admitting gaps in air defence system which has been pointed out by the CAG in its report, the Air Chief Marshal said the Government was for strengthening our radar system and new systems are being acquired. Many such radars and missile systems are in the pipeline, he stated.

On the delayed project of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), he admitted that there has been some delay in carrying the payload due to engine capacity and hence IAF has decided that a squadron of 20 LCAs will roll out by late 2010 or early 2011 with the same engine while we upgrade it for carrying required payload. Expressing his satisfaction over the reduction of number of accidents of MiG aircraft, he said that there are many variants of MiG and are gradually phasing out the older variant MiG21 which were inducted in 1964. Other variants are also upgraded and life extended.

MiG has been turned into Bison and IAF will have MiG 27 and MiG29 while MiG21 and MiG23 will be completely phased out. IAF was upgrading its transport fleet and was in process of acquiring 75 tonnes transport aircraft as against present fleet of AN32 and AL-76.12 Dornier aircraft and six air-to-air refueller aircraft are also being inducted shortly, he added.

On the joint use of air space by Military and Civil Aviation, the Air Chief Marshal Major said IAF has submitted a proposal for flexible airspace and whole idea is to find out integration of radar system which will locate both Military and Civilian aircraft. An experiment was conducted after monsoon in southern region and it met with success. Similar experiment will be conducted in other regions soon, he added.

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