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IAF planning fighter plane base in Nyoma in Ladakh, says NAK Browne

‘If India were to fight a war with China tomorrow, the Indian Air Force (IAF) will seek ‘air dominance,’ said IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal (ACM) NAK Browne on the occasion of 81st Air Force Day on Friday.

As part of efforts to build up military infrastructure along the border with China, the IAF on Friday said it plans to develop a fighter aircraft base at Nyoma in Ladakh and is upgrading seven airfields for carrying out 24X7 operations in the northeast.

The service is also considering extending the runway length and upgrading the Kargil airfield close to the Line of Control with Pakistan, its chief NAK Browne said.

However, he discounted the notion of ‘air supremacy’ as a textbook case, which can be accomplished only if the ‘enemy country’ did not have an air force of its own.

Having said that, Browne talked about the increasing depletion of the IAF squadron strengths in the ongoing 12th Five Year Plan and the oncoming 13th Plan. He said, ‘Its only after 2,022, there will be a slow accretion in the strength of the force in terms of numbers.’

He informed the large media contingent attending his annual press conference that ever since the newly acquired, the US origin C-130Js – six of which India has procured – landed at Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) air strip in Ladakh on 20th August this year, there have been five such sorties. After the first, much touted landing, the Chinese side across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) had sought a border personnel meeting (BPM). Browne said, ‘We are very clear in our mind that DBO is on our side of the territory.’

Browne is very gung-ho about the acquisition of more basic training aircraft, Pilatus PC-7, beyond the initially contracted number of 75, which are to be delivered by 2014. ‘There has to be just one basic trainer. Our trainees are quite happy flying these aircrafts.’

He was clearly not budging from his position that Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) should not ‘waste’ resources of the country in developing a basic trainer. ‘Instead,’ Browne said, ‘we should ask about the status of the Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) on which seven years have been spent and Rs 11,000 crore invested.’
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