Amid Indo-Pak tension, IAF chief BS Dhanoa says air force cautious and alert along border

The two neighbouring countries have exchanged heavy fire ever since the Centre scrapped Article 370, which gave special status to the Valley and bifurcated the state into two union territories — Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

Amid fresh tension between India and Pakistan after the revocation of special status to Jammu and Kashmir, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa Tuesday said the Indian Air Force was “cautious and alert” to face any situation on the border.

“We have seen their deployment. Indian Air Force is always cautious. We are responsible for air defence and we are always alert,” Dhanoa told reporters when asked about the situation at the Indo-Pakistan border.

Speaking at an IAF seminar, Dhanoa said the Air Force was always vigilant on operations of civilian aircraft also to avoid incidents like Purulia airdrop. “Not only about any enemy fighter but we also keep an eye on civilian aircraft so that incidents like Purulia airdrop do not happen,” Dhanoa said.

The two neighbouring countries have exchanged heavy fire along the LoC ever since the Centre scrapped special status to J&K by rendering Article 370 a dead letter and bifurcated the state into two union territories.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who was also present at the event, spoke about the reach and lethality of the Indian armed forces while referring to the Balakot airstrikes. The IAF had conducted airstrikes in Pakistan’s Balakot in February, days after the Pulwama terror attack on a CRPF convoy in which 40 personnel were killed.

“We are all aware that the Indian (Air) Force is a technologically advanced and extremely potent force. The recent offensive strikes against terrorist outfits in our neighbourhood speak volumes about the reach and lethality of the formidable arm of the Indian armed forces,” PTI quoted Singh as saying.

Addressing the media on modernisation and indigenisation of the Indian Air Force, Dhanoa said the IAF was still flying the outdated and 44-year-old MiG-21 fighter jets when no person even drives a car that old. “Hopefully, I will fly the last sortie in September, subject to visibility,” he said.

Stating that the aircraft has been in service for decades due to the overhauling of Indian-made components, Dhanoa said, “Over 95 per cent of components required in overhauling is made in India. The Russians are not flying the MiG but we are because we have overhaul facilities.”

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