IAF chief defends Agusta scamster SP Tyagi

IAF Chief Arup Raha said he is part of Air Force family and is going through rough patch of his life.

Published: 28th December 2016 12:00 PM  |   Last Updated: 28th December 2016 08:51 PM   |  A+A-

Arup RahaPTI

IAF chief Marshal Arup Raha (File | PTI)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Coming in support of former IAF Chief SP Tyagi, an accused in AgustaWestland bribery scandal, IAF Chief Arup Raha said he is part of Air Force family and is going through rough patch of his life. virtually defending his former senior colleague, Raha also said that multiple agencies are involved in the procurement process, which makes difficult to pin the blame on one particular person or organization.

Addressing media two days before hanging his boots, Air chief marshal Arup Raha on Wednesday said that "Till he proves guilty, we should give him some respect as he was former Chief of IAF."

"A former air force chief is like a family member, extended family member. If anybody in my family goes through a rough patch, I think we should stand by that person. And if the charges are proved, then we have no sympathy for him. Whatever charges are proved, whatever convictions are there, we will abide by it," he said.

He also said "Corruption issues have come time to time like Bofors. Despite investigation not much achieved by investigating agencies.

Former chief of IAF chief was arrested by CBI on December 9 on allegations on receiving kickbacks for giving his go ahead to procure 12 AgustaWestland helicopter for VVIP duty. On Monday Tyagi was granting bail by a Delhi court.

Two days back Raha also expressed his opinion on his former Chief by describing S P Tyagi as a "sound professional", IAF chief  Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha has said he should not have been treated like a "common criminal".

On Tuesday, while talking to a news channel, Raha, on arrest of SP Tyagi said that the arrest "obviously" hurts the morale of the people of the armed forces.

"If these corruption charges are proved, it is bad for the armed forces, or whoever is involved. It is not just the armed forces who are involved in the procurement.  "There are so many agencies who are involved. Therefore you cannot pin the blame on one particular organisation or service," Raha said speaking to reporters just days before he demits office on December 31.

Meanwhile, IAF chief, while brushing aside China's reaction on trial of nuclear capable Agni V intercontinental ballistic missile, maintained that India believes in peace and tranquility with neighbours but historically we have been drawn into conflicts.

Without naming China, IAF chief said, "we have to develop capabilities to deter if adversaries strong. We have to strike deep into adversaries heart of the enemy ". Simultaneously, We are building our capability from to sea air. Raising of mountain strike corps by army to developing advanced landing grounds in Arunachal Pradesh, Raha said Indian forces are developing its striking capabilities at the border.

Even MEA on Tuesday late evening reacting to China's criticism on fourth successful test of over 5000 Km long intercontinental ballistic missile that can carry nuclear warhead of 1.5 tons. "India's strategic capabilities are not targeted against any particular country. India abides by all the applicable international obligations and hopes that all other do the same." MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said. He also maintained India's strategic autonomy and growing engagement contributes to strategic stability.

Speaking reporters, Raha said missing of IAF transport aircraft AN 32 over Bay of Bengal was one of the worst moments of his carrier.ACM Raha said that despite extensive efforts on the surface and sub-surface domains the 29 missing personnel could not be located.“We have flown over 300 sorties and more than 1000 hours over the area of interest. But we could not locate it. We have proposed to the government to hire a foreign agency with such capasbility to trace it," he  added

Air Force Chief Arup Raha said that despite signing of 36 Rafale fighter jets with France, air force will be short of at least 200 warplanes to meet its sanctioned strength of 42 squadrons as well to sharpen its military edge.

"There is no doubt that Rafale is an excellent aircraft and it will prove its worth in any campaign. But, we have only agreed to procure 36 warplanes. We would require 200-250 medium-weight fighter jets in next ten years," Raha said, while stressing the need for setting up a new production line in the country.

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