Link to Full interview with Air Chief NAK Browne
Full Transcript is below:
Air Chief Marshall, N.A.K Browne took over as Chief of Air Staff almost a year ago and yet he has refrained from giving one on one interviews to the media. This is the first interview he is doing for television on the eve of the 80th anniversary of the Indian Air Force. And what better time to ask him what is the plan that he has for the Air Force.
Nitin Gokhale: How has the year been like? You been at the helm of the Air Force for more than a year now.
ACM NAK Browne: Well Nitin, it has been a very exciting year, a challenging year. It has not been easy, let me assure you that. Lot of hard work has gone into building up of the Air Force and we have been very satisfied with the results we have achieved so far. And this not the only year we’re looking at, we are looking at many years ahead.
Nitin: That’s right. What are the highlights of this say past one year, what have you achieved ?
Air Chief: Well actually, you know the number of challenges we came up with. First of course was the training issues. As you are aware, basic trainer was grounded for at least 2 and a half years and we were in the process of acquiring a new trainer, the Pilatus PC-7 . I am happy to tell that the trainer, the contract was signed in May this year. And we are starting deliveries from February next year itself. So this was the major, should I say, breakthrough because we wanted our pilots to fly the best trainers in the world. And this is a top of the line basic trainer to give confidence to the young boys and girls who are joining the Air Force. Because this will stay with us for the next 30 to 40 years. And it has to be.. we had to get it right. So that was the major change. And the other part was of course, we fined tuned our entire training program. As a matter of fact in the last one year a lot of my time has gone into fine tuning our training programmes, our technical training programmes and of course our flying training programmes as I just mentioned. So a lot of fine tuning as I said in terms of the Stage 3 training for our boys who are the last batches training on the MiG-21. Henceforth they will be training on the Hawk Aircraft. And of course once they pass out from here and join our front line squadrons, we want to them to perform with confidence and with great degree of should I say not so much of expertise but confident in the machines, confident in themselves and the training program.
Nitin: The technology is growing and growing so fast across the world and specially in the air forces, how are you training your pilots and other air warriors to keep up with the speed with which technology is changing?
Air Chief: Oh! We have… We have top of the line simulators now, as a matter of fact all the inductions that we are doing in the Air Force whether it’s helicopters,tankers or whether it’s fighter aircraft we all have state-of-the-art simulators which are going to be joining the fleet. We already have a few and for all the new programs we have full simulation facilities available. And apart from that of course the desktop simulators and the full motion simulators, so in the simulation side a lot of attention is being given to that aspect of training. And of course the other part is you.. you fly and exercise with some the best air forces in the world. So that gives you a fair amount of operational confidence as to what you are doing is at par if not better than many of the leading air forces.
Nitin: What about the MIG is almost completing 50 years I think by 2013 March I think it will almost complete 50 years of service in the Indian Air Force. How would you assess the MiGs performance so far and how many of them are you going to phase out now?
Air Chief: See, we still have a few squadrons left of the MiG-21s. The oldest one, the Type 77 which will be phased out by February 2014. So effectively we have one year and a few months for that aircraft to go. And as you rightly said it served the Air Force well for almost 50 years, all of us have flown it, including me. So it has done its job and I think we are going to retire it in 2014 February Along with it we have the Type 96, the Type 75 we have one squadron left and then we have of course the upgraded MiG-21 BIS, which we call the Bison, that will stay with us, the Bison will stay with us for much more time. But eventually the Type 96 will start going out in 2015…they have already started phasing out and by 2016-17 they will all go.
Nitin: But you know, I want you to be record on this… The sobriquet that the MiGs were flying coffins wasn’t really fair to that aircraft and I remember you saying somewhere that it is not the aircraft really but the lack of training sometimes which is responsible for accidents of those aircraft. Is that true?
Air Chief: Well actually I fully agree with you because you know it has been a very fine machine. In fact in its time it was one of the best machines in the world. It saw through both in 65 and 71 wars and of course in 60s it has just joined the Air Force.. in 62-63. Having said that, what actually happened was over the years since we did not have the advanced trainer we were pushed into using this aircraft, we had no choice. We actually had no choice because the Hawk has come 25 years too late. Well it’s doing a great job now but you can see the situation if it had come at least then in the 70s -80s and we wouldn’t have had to go through with this program. But having done….said that we have fine tuned our syllabus, a fair amount of instructional sorties have been added to the boys who have less cockpit time. And..and now I think they are performing well. But because of this issue they ran into difficulties because aircraft lands fast and it is not very forgiving at low speeds and high angles of attacks. Those are the issues that affected the boys who joined us new.
Nitin: That’s right. So in a way I am glad that you clarified it because it unnecessarily had that feeling that MIG was a …………
Air Chief: And because we are 12 to 15 squadrons of them flying around ,the moment an accident took place statistically it turned out to be the MiG-21 and unfortunately that is how it got such a bad name. But believe you me,it’s a beautiful aircraft. (great) I still have a lot of time for it.
Nitin: Okay. But you are also upgrading your Jaguars and your Mirage 2000s, which are also a part of your inventory. How is that program going?
Air Chief: See, the Jaguars have been through a series of upgrades, we had the Darrien -1, the Darrien -2 , these are all the program we had on the Jaguar, improving the nav-attack essentially on the nav-attack systems and now we are moving into the Darrien -3 which…that program is going on now and of course that will involve the fittment of a full fledged air-borne radar and a full nav-attack suite, totally new. So that’s a major change along with EW Suite that will take place on the aircraft. And the last upgrade, if I may say, the last upgrade is the fact that we are going to change the engines. So we are going in for the Honeywell engine and with far more thrust. That is the only problem Jaguar had you know, it took too long to (pardon) it took to long to get air borne. Other than that with big payloads and hot conditions you require aircraft with more powerful engines. So we are doing that now.
Nitin: Okay. What about the Mirage?
Air Chief: The Mirage upgrade of course you know we have already signed the contract and in May this year I was in France, I visited the facility, they are doing the upgrade there itself. And it’s absolutely on track. And Dassault is doing a good job on the upgrade, our team is there and though of course the upgrade will take a fair amount of time but when it comes back it will be a different Mirage I can assure you that.
Nitin: Dassault is also the L1 in the MMRCA contract.(yes) Let us move from up gradations or modernization to acquisitions you have in the pipeline, several of them. You have done fair amount and the biggest one still remains to be clinched..(yeah). Where is that now? The MMRCA Contract?
Air Chief: Well, negotiations are on with the French with HAL also involved because of the transfer of technology issues, the offset issues, it is a very comprehensive CNC, we call it CNC – Commercial Negotiations, you know. So that is going on at this point of time. And I hope we will be able to wrap it up by..by at least this financial year.
Nitin: And money is not a problem for that?
Air Chief: Well, the funds have already been budgeted for in our Air Force budget so funds is not the issue. It is the question of getting there as soon as we can.
Nitin: That’s true. But just to assure our countrymen , that you know they constantly keep hearing maybe in the media so much and also from commentators, that Indian combat jets numbers have dwindled and as long as these 126 combatants don’t come they are in vulnerable position. How would you explain that? How would you reassure them?
Air Chief: See, right now we have 34 combat squadrons and in spite of these drawdowns that I just mentioned to you of the MIG-21s, we are supplementing them with the Su-30 squadrons. So you can see it is not just the numbers it is also the capability. And what’s gonna happen is that at least in the 12th plan which finishes in 2017 we will continue to maintain 34 squadrons. We will not allow the force levels to drop. They go up a little bit, up and down but they will remain at 34 squadrons but with far greater capability than even what we have today.
Nitin: And what about in the transport department, you have got new acquisitions lined up or already done? How is the acquisition of C-130J given you the edge?
Air Chief: It has been a tremendous, should I say, change the C 130J coming into the Air Force. And not only is it a special ops aircraft which has a very fine sensor suites and capability. It also has a great amount of flexibility in how we operate it in short strips, day and night, all weather capability. So C 130 has really made a big difference. And right now we have a case, a FMS case which we are progressing for 6 additional aircraft and these would be based at Panagarh in the East.
Nitin: Oh I see. Okay. What about the C17s, they are also in the pipeline?
Nitin: The C17s infact, strategic airlift, I mean, that will be the first aircraft we will have which will truly give us real strategic airlift.That component which was lacking so far. Of course we had the IL-76s but you know the payload is much less so almost half that of the C-17s. And the C17 has the capability of going around the globe. Long ranges, air to air refueling everything else is possible so that will give us the flexibility for inter- theater deployment of forces and operating also from short strips. And some of the areas, should I say, in the mountainous regions, so it will give us all those options.
Nitin: So when is it likely to join the Air Force?
Air Chief: Actually, the first aircraft will be with us in June next year.
Nitin: As early as that??
Air Chief: As early as that… yeah.. and over the next 12 months we will have 10 aircraft. So you can see that it is a very accelerated program that is going to take place. And so by, i would say, by next year itself the airlift capability of the IAF will be doubled from what it is today.
Nitin: But is the ground infrastructure keeping pace with the speed of acquisition because your MAFI programs or modernisation of Air Force fields or airstrips is that keeping pace? What about the ALGs in the East and the North?
Air Chief: See as far as the MAFI is concerned, MAFI actually stands for Modernisation of Air Field Infrastructure, the first airfield we have already done, Bhatinda is already done fully. The next stage is five more.. is go… is already going to happen in parallel. It’s not sequential, actually it will be happening in parallel. And thereafter there are many other bases, we have something like 30 bases lined up one after….umm…alongside that will get upgraded. So these are existing air fields, operational existing airfields of the IAF which are going to get modernised. The East infrastructure is where we have some concerns because that is what is taking a little more time.You know also because of the mountain region and the hilly region. The work cycle is just about 7-8 months in a year. (maybe less in fact) ..yeah… so rains, monsoons, people, labour to reach there and work in those areas. We have made some progress but it is not.. I am not very happy with that progress,we need to do much much more.
Nitin: You are actually talking of the ALGs here (hmm) and that is in Arunachal Pradesh?
Air Chief: That’s correct. So we need to step up the gas on that.
Nitin: Okay. What about Ladakh ? Are there any concerns there about modernisation of infrastructure?
Air Chief: Well we have plans to upgrade the Kargil airfield. So that at least some of these modern aircraft that we will be getting have better infrastructure there. So that process is on and also the development of the new airfield at Nyoma which is South-East Ladakh region .That would bring a quantum change of forces in that sector. So that’s also in the pipeline.
Nitin: But has it been sorted out or they are still in the discussion stage?
Air Chief: Not discussion stage. I mean it is inside this stage where the finance is looking at the cost and so on and so forth. We have the in principle approval from the RM but once we get this finance thing sorted out then it will go to CCS, the Cabinet.
Nitin: Also helicopter fleet I think you are enhancing the numbers. How are they doing?
Air Chief: In fact, the maximum induction is taking place in the helicopter fleet.Both in terms of the medium lift as also few attack helicopters. As you know, now the attack helicopters, 22 of them we will be getting from the US. The Apache Helicopters And 80 helicopters, medium lift will be from the Russian side, the MI -17 V5. And in a very short time we have already operationalised four of these units. Two in East and 2 in the West. And by December this year or by just about early next year we will have all these units operationalised. Its full day and night, fully capable. And we are also in the pipeline for 59 more of these Helicopters.
Nitin: What about Apache? When are they expected?
Air Chief: Well it will take us, if we sign the contract this year then it will take us about three years from there.
Nitin: But your fleet from Congo, there was a talk that they were being brought back….
Air Chief: They are all back. Oh yes. So today we have two attack helicopter units and this unit will be the third one.
Nitin: That brings me to the Naxals operations… I think there are these concerns and there are always these discussions about the employment of Air Force in the anti-naxal operations in the heart of India. Where are we, as far as the Air Force is concerned, where are we on that issue?
Air Chief: See we have got something like six helicopters, MI-17 IV, the medium lift, which are operating full time in Chattisgarh, that area, Jagdalpur, Raipur.. you know the Ranchi area. And they have been there since 2009 December. So, this year in fact we will complete almost 3 years of these operations. Essentially what they are involved in is logistic support to our paramilitary forces and casualty evacuation and other kinds of support you know. So we have flown a lot there and we are contributing immensely to the MHA’s effort of supporting our people there and i think they will be in there for quite some time.
Nitin: But are there demands to increase their numbers there?
Air Chief: Everybody wants more and more but no we can’t afford to have anything more happening there. But these are adequate I can assure you. They are almost flying 120 hours a month just for this kind of operation. Because we also have to now start moving by road. That’s important, I mean to have the confidence to clear areas and move by road rather than to move everything by air. So I think the requirements will always be there but we are meeting the requirement.
Nitin: But you also know the Air Force does a tremendous job as far as the disaster relief is concerned, specially in floods and earthquake and other disasters. I think we see it across the country. Does that take a lot of your time and effort and assets?
Air Chief: Oh it does, it absolutely does. I mean the same helicopters– Mi-17s, the Mi-17 Vs, I mean they have been the work horse of the IAF’s rotary wing effort. And they do a fantastic amount of job. Because you know they can take people, they take load and drop water, food and medicines. Right now, as we are talking they are involved in the Sikkim relief … not Sikkim.. I beg your pardon, in the Assam flood relief. Sikkim they were involved in last year along with the C130Js. So they are engaged at this point of time in Assam.
Nitin: Going forward as you look at the Air Force’s shape and size in the next 10 years or so, you are also looking at acquiring the 5th generation fighters in collaboration with the Russians. Where does that program stand as of now?
Air Chief: You see we have a joint program with the Russians on the FGFA program. Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft and right now their aircraft is undergoing testing. They have about three prototypes The fourth one is undergoing testing now and what will happen with our program is that there are basically two phases, the D&D phase, the design and development phase and the second phase is the R&D phase. So the Desgin & Development phase as far as our involvement is concerned is practically over and now we are moving into the R&D phase which actually is the Mother of all phases. So we are starting the contract negotiations and that will involve extensive amount of discussions, technical side, propriety issues, IPR issues and heaps of technical details like data sharing this that .Performance, QRs, everything else. That process in on now. And we hope that we will be able to finalise that contract by this year itself. Now as a part of the R&D phase, once the contract is signed, we are supposed to sign three prototypes, prototypes meant for India. So the first prototype will actually join us in 2014, the second around 2016-17 and the third prototype in 2019. So our boys will be testing that in Ozar and these are all development testing that will go on. So the final version which I am talking about is in 2019, that standard of preparation will be the one that we will be ordering to the HALs and the Russian of course to produce that variant. And that will happen around 20-22 or so. So we are expecting the first squadron around 20-22.. which also coincides with the completion of the 13th defence plan.
Nitin: You know in all this the critical perhaps factor is the HAL. The support and the technical support as well as the capacity to absorb so many transfer of technologies that are going to come from various manufacturers. How are you looking at HAL and are you happy with the performance? Because LCA is still at a stage where we haven’t been able to decide whether you should go for LCA’s one more squad.
Air Chief: Well coming to HAL first, let me put it this way. They have their hands full they have some very big programmes you know on the table and whether it’s to do with helicopter, FGFA programs as you mentioned, the Mirage overhaul and so many issues. So we are dependent a lot on HAL. In fact that is the only aviation industry we have today in the country supporting the IAF. And as time goes by you can see them getting more and more involved. But then of course what we are looking at also is the need for greater response to deliveries, you know in terms of time much better quality in terms of the product itself and HAL has to just get on with it because we cannot afford to have these delays taking place, slip ups happening. It affects our training schedule, it affects our induction schedules. So like I said they have a lot of food on the table, they need to sort that out and get on with each one.
Nitin:- Do you think Indian private players should also be coming in a big way for a….
Air Chief: NO no, I am a big advocate for the private defense industries, companies joining the defense arena and I think IAF was the first service after taking over last year in a CII conference I myself had announced, that for the 56 Avro replacement we had made a proposal to the government that we need to invite the private players in this area along with an OEM from outside to start with at least. And I am happy to tell you that proposal had been accepted by the government leaving the PSUs out of it because they had too much, like I said that they had too much on the table and we could not afford those kinds of slippage of timeline so on and so forth. So the 56 Avro replacement has been cleared by the government. And we will have OEM from abroad who will tie up with, you know consortium they will tie up with the local industries and they will produce the aircraft here. 16 fly away from outside and 40 will be produced here.
Nitin: That is an excellent news because that is the way forward I think…
Air Chief: Because that is the way that will form, should I say the basis of what and where we go ahead in next few years? And right now we are talking about Avro aircraft why not the fighter aircraft in future?
Nitin: But coming back to LCA, how are you looking at the LCA? Where is it now?
Air Chief: The LCA in a way we have managed to cross the major milestone and I expect that the LCA will perhaps take place sometime next year in July-August or so, given the way the programme is progressing and we can count two years from there to the final operational clearance. So we are looking at 2015 onward where the first squadron will start performing.
Nitin: Let me move away from acquisitions and modernisation. I have been hearing military leaders like you speaking about acquiring capabilities which is not adversary specific. But the fact is we have two adversaries Pakistan and China, among the two the Chinese seem to be a bigger threat to a lay person like me. How is the Air Force preparing for any possible challenge you know or competition from China in the coming years?
Air Chief: I will take you back to the same point. You know its when you develop a certain capability you are not just looking at the adversary specific specially in terms of Air Forces because air power gives you that kind of flexibility to shift from left to right, up or down. It gives you the amount of you know the freedom to operate. What actually should actually happen is it’s just not moving force left or right or here or there, but also to able to have the infrastructure on the ground. So if tomorrow if I have to move forces from Chabua in the east, he can tank up refuel over central India perhaps land in Trivandrum to look after something happening in the Indian Ocean in the southern side, you know same thing can happen from the west to the east. So it’s not Pakistan or China that we are looking at or getting worried about. That’s not the issue. What we are looking at is to build up that capability to be at No 1. Number two is when you operate you got to have the infrastructure support on the ground. Its pointless landing up in Trivandrum when you don’t have fuel there, you don’t have the support infrastructure, you don’t have the weapon storage and so on so forth. So the operational infrastructure has to go side by side along with capability development and when you have that across the board then whoever it may be you can take it on at any point of time.
Nitin: But looking at the Chinese especially in Tibet, there is lots of exercises that they have been doing in Tibet. How are you viewing those exercises?
Air Chief: Well this year they have little more than the normal, I am just going by the experience of past few years. Eh! But that’s Tibet for them, they have bases there operating there. And we look at that as we look everywhere else.
Nitin: It’s not a matter of concern?
Air Chief: Nothing concerns us but we look at everything. ok. Whether we have concerns whether we have serious concerns that’s a separate issue but we look at everything. So this is very much in our domain to you know monitor what’s happening not only in Tibet but also in the north in the west everywhere else.
Nitin: On that count you are also doing a lot of work in the Andaman’s now. The Air Force has just started a base I mean you are sort of widened the base. How are you looking at that part of the country or at least that part of the region?
Air Chief: No the Andaman and Nicobar islands command is a very important tri service command for us and we are building up Air defence capabilities there more putting up sensors on the ground because you need to know who is coming and going in that entire region. And as I mentioned to you earlier we are basing the next 6 C130 aircraft at Panagarh and his major area of operation and coverage he will look at is also the island territories in south-east. So he will cover that as well.
Nitin: Talking about Andaman Nicobar command now your Chairman Chiefs of Staff and we had just got a glimpse of the Naresh Chandra Committee report. But there is that suggestion that there should be a permanent Chairman Chiefs of Staffs, who’s going to look after the tri-services commands especially special operations command. What are your views on that particular proposal?
Air Chief: See we have concurred with the proposal. ah! By and large like.. Though its not in the public domain. There recommendations in respect of this issue that you are mentioning, the Air Force has concurred with the proposal because we require, we require somebody to spend some time and to carry programs through and of course they have proposed that he will also be looking after the tri services command. Right now we have two, we don’t know in future we have five or six or so. But when you look at the challenges that are facing the country today ah! the area that we need to focus on is cyber, its extremely really important. We need to look at aerospace domain as well; right and we need to look at special operations like just mentioned. And I think its time now that we really take a hard look at creating focused energies in these three areas because these are the challenges that the India is facing and is going to face next couple of years and the services themselves have a fair amount of capability and competence you know. Now instead of staying in a defused standalone modes we need to combine all our energies together and including some of the civil agencies. So everyone gets plugged into this and we have a very unified approach to these issues.
Nitin: That means there is a big paradigm shift in the Air Force’s thinking because Air Force has always had reservations about CDS five star one point military adviser but in terms of chairman permanent chairman staffs for two years you don’t have any issues with that?
Air Chief: No its not that the Air Force has had reservations on CDS. What we always said was that yes you must have whether you call it CDS or Chairman’s Chief’s of Staff. What is more important all alongside this process is the need to integrate services people in the Ministry of Defence. So these miscommunications and the other things and the time factor that we take to respond to the issues and the cases going back and forth, that actually will stop or there will be greater understanding let me put it in this way between the Ministry of Defence and the services. So I am a strong advocate of having integration of service officers in Ministry and vice-versa you know. So when you have that process happening you’ll actually strengthen the hands of either the chairman which they have proposed now or for that matter even at later stage even the CDS. And I am of the view that the services service Chiefs should continue, must continue to retain the operational role of the services that they had and they can continue to give advice to the government as the head of the insti.. their organization. Whereas the CDS or Chairman’s staff should advice the government on joint issues which affect all the three services together. So there is no such thing as single point of contact, we don’t want just one God father sitting there and giving just one view to the government. He will give one view and there is also a view from the chiefs and all this needs to be put together and I am quite sure the at highest level the need to look at more and more options and this is the one. This is the process that will give these options.
Nitin: So are you going to push for it as chairman Chief’s of Staff for this kind of integration and this type jointness that you are looking at within the three services in coming months?
Air Chief: Absolutely.
Nitin: Ok. Let me move away from those and come to your welfare measures as far as air warriors are concerned. You are expanding so rapidly Is attracting talent in your air warrior team as well as engineering is that a problem. I know your son is a fighter pilot but how do you see young talent coming in to Air Force? Are they sort of coming in adequate numbers?
Air Chief – Actually you know we recently found a shift. There was a period I think when this aviation boom took place in the private sector that everybody wanted to fly the airlines and I am not quite sure whether the.. whether that process is still happening because now we find that far far more people are wanting to join the Air Force. Ah! I am not quite sure about the other two services, I am sure they also wanting to join there. But this tremendous amount of eagerness to get into the flying game. To give you the example this year we had something around 300 vacancies, You know for one of our streams and we were happy you’ll be surprised to know that we had close to three lakh people applying for that. That a kind of eagerness to join and I think people have now realized that you know its not just passion for flying or for adventure people look for stability and they also look for good quality of life and to do something honorable at that age is something which attracts the youth. So we are not having problems finding the people its just that we have to find the right people.
Nitin – Is that the problem?
Air Chief – NO like I said we going to have a big data base and then you can narrow the choices and select the best that are available.
Nitin – So there is no worry on that count?
Air Chief- Not at all. Of course side by side we also have. We just don’t sit back and let things happen, we have a lot of programs advertising we also target our schools, colleges, you know spread the gospel across the country. we have these rallies which go on because when we go down to the field units you find that there is… you know the families are also spreading that message through friends and families that its a great way of running and dealing with your life.
Nitin:I am told that you also initiated some measures to look after your veterans, what is that about….?
Air Chief: Actually, you know what we have done is our veterans unfortunately because of these old time rules and departments you know one person is looking after the pensions and then the regulations is there, their health issues is separate then their other conditions are separate and there were various departments that were dealing with these issues. So what we are doing now is as a matter of fact on 4th of October in 80th year of the Air Force, we have decided to put all this under one roof and we are calling it Directorate of Air veterans. So we are putting all their pay issues, their pension issues, their medical issues put it all together under one roof and there will be one Air vice – Marshal who is ACS accounts because many of these issues are related to their pay and pension you know pension accounts. So He’ll be heading that directorate apart from his other responsibilities. And I think there will be fair amount of good will generated because this one little step of putting everything together.
Nitin: Air Chief Marshal past one year has been kind of controversial as far as military is concerned in terms of civil-military relations, the former Army Chief’s relations and this whole case became a big issue, a controversial issue. How do you see the relationship between the military leadership and civilian leadership because there us this feeling between the military leadership and civilian leadership. Is there a divide or you are still working together very well.
Air Chief– You know when I look back at the whole episode let me just say that I am not going to go into who did right who did wrong. Let’s leave those issues aside. What is important from our perspective is that obviously, this whole episode I mean appeared like a little bad dream, to some it may have appeared like a nightmare for example. I think we should leave that behind us as we move forward because I do believe our Army is a very fine institution. In fact its a very stable and a very solid institution in the country and each one of us needs to respect that institution. Unfortunately it was not nice to see that so many debates and other things that were on in the media and I would go one step further that having left those issues behind, I think each one of us needs to remember that including the civilians, that, we got to have time for that institution, give due respect to those men and those jawans and officers who are handling that institution. And I think let’s leave it to them, the one job they know best that is war fighting. Let’s leave them, to do that job. As far as civil military relations are concerned, I can assure you there is no problem at all. We have no issues. Of course, like any big organisation you have issues and discordant notes now and then, it doesn’t matter, but you resolve it and move on. I mean there’s no stand off kind of a thing as it appears sometimes by some commentators that you know this is happening that is happening, it is not true at all.
Nitin – Some commentators also believe this and there’s this increasing feeling that I get when I interact with them that constantly there has been an effort by civilians and maybe politicians to downgrade the military in social as well as government structure. Do you subscribe to that?
Air Chief: See like I said whatever is there you have to deal with it and deal with it positively. Right. Because when you adopt a stand off approach people who suffer are both the organisations. Nobody benefits out of a stand off approach. Its better to integrate and work alongside the bureaucracy and the ministry. We have had no issues, we’ve had no problems at all and I hope than in future as well everything would be discussed across the table in a very open way of dealing with issues rather than through the third party or through media.
Nitin– So the media will have to keep away from speculating I guess?
Air Chief– No. No. They certainly have a responsibility. Certainly they have a role to play
Nitin: Finally in the 80th year of the Air Force future looks good to you?
Air Chief: Absolutely. It looks good now.
Nitin: And ten years down the line how do you see the Indian Air Force? I know it is one of the best in the country.. eh in the world but going forward do you think it is going to be a force which is not only just aaaa.. you know guarding India’s territorial boundaries would also be looking at other stuff?
Air Chief: See as I have said this earlier also in some other interview that it will take us the modernisation process for the IAF, the full process will take us at least 8 to 10 years more. Right we started it 5-6 years ago and I think in 15 year’s time if you can modernise and turn Air Force around nobody has attempted this in any part of the world, at such a large scale ours is a big Air Force you know. But it is not just not machines and machines and equipment’s that we are talking about we are talking about people’s focus is right now is on people as well. Because the are the guys who are going to maintain them, service them, look after them you can afford to leave them behind. So long with this Air Force future is starting now itself. we are also giving a lot attention on our people, so I keep telling my guys look it stop running after the equipment start running after the people, they are the ones who going to deliver the goods. And I can assure you that the Air Force is in good shape the are doing well and next few years, I keep telling the youngsters they are so fortunate have joined the services today because they have so much to look forward to whether its transports, helicopters or aircraft or the missile system. There is tremendous amount of room for growth and development itself. So it a great future.