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Induction of BRAHMOS air version, C-17 aircraft in 2013

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The BRAHMOS supersonic cruise missile will power the SU-30MKI fighters of the IAF.

COIMBATORE (PTI): Induction of BRAHMOS air version and C-17 aircraft would form a part of major expansion of the Indian Air Force (IAF) in 2013, Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne has said.

The first C-17 Globemaster aircraft would reach India by June, 2013 and would be mainly utilised for strategic lifting and transport of goods and troops, besides humanitarian relief works, Browne told reporters at the Sulur air force station on Tuesday.

The Government has ordered 10 such heavy-lift military aircraft which would be based at Hindon. The entire lot was expected to be delivered by 2015, he said.

Browne, who was at Coimbatore to participate in the function where two of IAF's flying squadrons were awarded the President's Standard by President Pranab Mukherjee, said the much awaited air version of BRAHMOS would be launched by December 2013.

Since it has to go for fitness test on Sukhoi-30, it would take time for such trials and the version would be launched by next year.

"This (missile) is the first of its kind in the world," Browne said.

Regarding the Apache attack helicopters, Browne said he had already said the acquisition process of the US-made choppers will continue to remain with the IAF and the Army has to go in for another proposal and wait for the Government's nod.

Since both Navy and Army have their own aviation segments in a smaller way, it was up to them to acquire, he said.

Moreover, the IAF did not want duplication, since it has the full responsibility of aviation, the Air Chief said adding that it was also being planned to phase out MiG-21 and MiG-27 fighters, and replace them by Sukhoi-30s in a phased manner.

Stating that the IAF would have 39 squadrons by the 14th Five Year Plan, from the present 34, Browne said Light Combat Aircraft 'Tejas' would also be inducted by 2015 at the Sulur air base.

On shortage of manpower, he said the force was short of 700 pilots, which would be filled by 2017, as constraints for training was creating problems to increase the strength.

To a question on accidents, he said on an average there were 11 to 12 accidents in the last three years. However, during this year (April-December) only three were reported, indicating that the Force was taking adequate steps to ensure safe running of aircraft, with advanced technology.

On whether there was tension in the area bordering China, Browne said, "We examine continuously everything happening on the border. There is no cause for concern."

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