NEW DELHI: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday asked the Indian Air Force (IAF) to focus on developing strategies to deal with future challenges facing India and lauded all air warriors for giving the country the most competent and combat worthy force.
Singh was speaking after inaugurating a two-day conference of top commanders of the IAF.
In his address, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria emphasised the need for further enhancing operational capabilities to deter any misadventure by adversaries.
"I urge the IAF commanders to use the conference for developing strategies against future challenges and enhancing IAF's capability. The IAF is growing steadily towards becoming a truly strategic aerospace power," the defence minister said.
The commanders brainstormed over the evolving security scenario in India's neighbourhood and explored ways to further bolster the country's aerial prowess, officials said.
"I praise the IAF for its professionalism and laud all air warriors and their families for giving us a most competent and combat worthy force. The IAF has proven itself time and again. It has earned the respect of foreign air forces who are eager to cooperate as well as exercise with us," Singh said.
The defence minister said India is strengthening its defense capability through increased domestic production and reducing dependence on import of military hardware.
"We have to seize new opportunities for indigenous design and development and I appreciate the IAF's effort in this regard," Singh said.
On the first day of the conference, the commanders also deliberated extensively on the need for focussing IAF's capability in the field of space, cyber, artificial intelligence and drone technology, the officials said.
It also held detailed discussions on the evolving security scenario in India's immediate neighbourhood and beyond with a focus on boosting the IAF's operational capability in the short and long term.
In his comments, Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria highlighted the need for continuous enhancement of in-house maintenance capabilities and optimum utilisation of new inductions in order to make the IAF a formidable combat force.
He also stressed on the need for enhanced joint training with the Indian Army as well as the Indian Navy for fostering joint manship and ensuring national security.
Speedy implementation of the IAF's ambitious modernisation plan will be a key priority, said the officials, adding the focus in the last few years has been to improve overall infrastructure and readiness of the force in the north-eastern sector.
The conference facilitates conceptual level deliberations culminating in important policy decisions.
"Issues pertaining to indigenisation, streamlining procurement of equipment, strengthening training and optimisation of the HR policies would also be discussed during this conference," the defence ministry said in a statement.
The commanders are also deliberating on how the IAF can complement government's efforts to enhance the defence manufacturing capabilities of the country, particularly through acquisitions under the strategic partnership model.
The government announced the strategic partnership model in May 2017 under which select private firms were to be roped in to build key military platforms like submarines and fighter jets in India in partnership with global defence majors.