Amid threats of China getting hostile on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the coming months, Indian Air Force Chief (IAF) Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria on Saturday said India too can be aggressive if Beijing tries to get violent.
Addressing a press conference in Jodhpur on the sidelines of IAF and the French Air and Space Force’s bilateral exercise “Desert Knight-21”, RKS Bhadauria said, “If they can be aggressive, we can also be aggressive. We are fully prepared.”
On being asked if the training or exercises are also being done at the Eastern border as the current exercise “Desert Knight-21” is being done at the Western border, he said, “The bilateral exercises are not part of exercises against any country. It is to develop the capability and improve bilateral ties. If it is not being seen it does not mean it is not happening. Several trainings are also being done there.”
The IAF Chief said that eight Rafale fighter jets have arrived in India and three more will reach by the end of the month. “Enough training of pilots are being done. By next year, the induction of the jets will conclude,” he added.
India has signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to procure 36 aircraft at a cost of Rs 59,000 crore.
He further said that Rafale is a serious contender for India’s project to buy 114 multirole fighter aircraft.
“Our initial priority was to operationalise Rafale and also to integrate with other combat fleets, Su-30 being primary and that has been already done. So all the task has already been done,” he said.
Indo-French air exercises “Desert Knight-21” is underway at Air Force Station Jodhpur, from January 20 to 24.
The joint exercise is being conducted to enable the two air forces to share operational experience, particularly regarding Rafale jets and learn how to operate together more effectively, according to a statement on January 19.
India and France have fielded a number of fighter jets in the exercise which include Rafales of two sides, besides Mirages and the Sukhois of the Indian Air Force.
The French are participating with Rafale, Airbus A-330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), A-400M Tactical Transport aircraft and approximately 175 personnel.
The Indian Air Force aircraft participating in the exercise include Mirage 2000, Su-30 MKI, Rafale, IL-78 Flight Refuelling Aircraft, Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWACS) and AEW&C aircraft.