NEW DELHI: Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha said on Tuesday that India’s response to the Sept. 18 terror attack on Uri, in which 19 soldiers were killed, is still not over. “Things are still live,” he said but refrained from commenting on the cross-border surgical strikes carried out by India on Sept. 29.
These were the first remarks by an Indian services chief since the surgical strikes which took out terror launch pads across the Line of Control.
“it’s a ‘sensitive matter. It would not be right for me give a perspective now," the chief of the Indian Air Force (IAF) responded when asked about the fallout of the strike in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
The air chief asserted that the IAF is capable of taking on any contingency, but a decision on using the IAF in an offensive role would have to be taken by the political leadership. "The Air Force, Army and Navy are always ready," said Raha, who is also the chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC).
Raha clarified that it was just a "coincidence" that Pakistan's air force carried out war games named High Mark just at a time when tensions between India and Pakistan were high.
The air chief marshal said the terror attack on the Pathankot air base earlier in the year had been a "setback" to the IAF but the force has taken multiple steps to bolster security at its installations since then.
He added, “We are not going to develop our capability vis-a-vis a particular adversary or country. We just build our capability to have a strategic reach and to deter our adversary. And if we have to use that capability in a conflict or contingency, we will," he said.
Describing the Rafale fighter jets – which India has contracted to buy from France – as "exceptional", the IAF chief said the force would like to have more of the aircraft and insisted that the deal to buy 36 Rafale fighters was better than other such deals.
"Any air force will be proud to have aircraft of the Rafale class which is in the mid-weight category. In terms of its weapons capability, air-to-air missiles, beyond visual range, air-to-ground, its avionics, instrumentation, and warfare suite, it is exceptional and one of the leading aircraft of the current generation," Raha said.
He also spoke about "unsolicited offers" that India has received from Boeing, Saab and Lockheed Martin to manufacture fighter aircraft in India and said the company that offers the best deal would be selected.