Indian Air Force chief BS Dhanoa said on Monday said that the Soviet-era turboprop aircraft AN-32 will remain operational as the IAF doesn't have any choice.
"We are in the process of procuring modern aircraft. When we get them we will use them for important operations & AN-32 will be used for training purposes," Dhanoa said during an event commemorating 20 years of Kargil War at Gwalior Air Base.
While talking about the 1999 war, Dhanoa also recalled how the integration of targeting pod, laser-guided bomb system for Mirage 2000 was done before the crucial Tiger Hill airstrike.
"Purpose of our attack has always been to show our resolve&capability, and the message has been given to the person who is being hit, on 2 August 2002 the message was given to the person who was being hit as that person never returned," the IAF chief said.
"Integration of targeting pod, laser-guided bomb system for Mirage 2000 was done in a record time of 12 days," He added while saying the deployment of Mirage 2000 and air support to ground forces turned the tide against Pakistan during the war.
Also present during the event were the Commander In Chiefs of the Central Air Command, Air Marshal Rajesh Kumar and Western Air Command, Air Marshal R Nambiar.
All the three officers had participated in the air bombings against the intruders in Kargil when they had occupied the heights of the mountains in 1999.
On the Balakot air strike and subsequent events,, Dhanoa remarked, "They (Pakistan) have closed their airspace that is their problem. Our economy is vibrant and air traffic is a very important part and you have noticed that the Air Force has never stopped our civil air traffic. Only on 27 February (2019) we had stopped Srinagar airspace for 2-3 hours, rest of it we didn't allow tension with Pakistan to dictate our civil aviation because our economy is much bigger and much stronger as compared to theirs."
An AN-32 aircraft went missing on June 3 and the wreckage was spotted on June 11 in heavily mountainous areas of Arunachal Pradesh. A total of 13 IAF personnel died in the crash.
(With ENS and PTI Inputs)