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Israeli anti-missile suite Iron Dome still being fine-tuned, says IAF

The much talked about Israeli anti-missile suite, Iron Dome anti-missile system – one of the cynosures of the Aero India ’13 – was pooh-poohed  on Thursday by the Indian Air Force (IAF) chief, Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne. He said: ‘Iron Dome is still being fine-tuned. We cannot have limited air defence systems in a large country like ours.’

But he was complimentary about the other anti-missile systems of Israel like David’s Sling (a play on the Biblical hero of the David and the Goliath battle). He said that there are ‘some positives’ in that programme.

But in the same breath, he talked about the Indian ballistic missile system named till now with much more humility, PAD and AAD. Browne also lamented about the fact that Indian small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in India do not make enough effort in research and development to elevate themselves from ‘tier two and three’ suppliers. He added: ‘Even HAL is not a fully a tier one company.’

The air force chief, who is also the rotating chairman of the chiefs of staff committee, said that already about $ 3 billion worth of ‘offsets’ that have come into the country. Altogether there are 14 contracts that have been concluded.’

Browne also provided palliatives to the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the HAL by saying that on the Light Combat Aircraft that the IAF has ordered will be accepted without any change in the ‘qualitative requirements’ of the force. It has to match the ‘design intent’ of the project without ‘lowering the standards’ and working around the system. The LCA Mark I will be accepted to a limited extent, while hoping that Mark II will see a qualitative change.

Projecting for the future, he hoped that the IAF will be one of the few highest standard air forces in the world by the end of the century.
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