Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa has said the Indian Air Force is now much better equipped than it was during the Kargil conflict in 1999, Hindustan Times reported on Thursday.
“We have prioritised our requirements,” the air force chief said on Wednesday. He added that during the Kargil conflict, India flew repeated MiG-21 sorties, destroying Pakistani supply dumps and logistics facilities along the Line of Control.
Dhanoa said though the air force now has better surveillance and strike capabilities, gaps in tackling possible terror attacks on its installations need to be addressed. According to him, the probability of a terror attack was now much higher than a two-front war.
He talked of shortage of fighter squadrons – the Air Force possessing just 30 instead of the 42 it requires. However, Dhanoa added that 42 squadrons were needed only for a two-front war.
Dhanoa said the air force was spending on “game changers” such as the Rafale jets and the S-400 Russian-made missile shield, and has strike formations across fleets, with an all-weather capability to carry out precision strikes day and night, unlike the situation during the Kargil conflict.
India was taken by surprise when Pakistani intruders occupied mountain heights in Kargil in 1999, Dhanoa said. However, this was impossible at present because of India’s better surveillance capabilities, he added. During the Kargil war, India had low-level tactical photography capability, and did not have digital imagery capabilities, the air force chief said.
Dhanoa said there was better coordination between the air force, Army and Navy than before. He said the three wings of the military conduct joint procurement of assets, and plan jointly “more than ever before”.
On July 16, Dhanoa had said the Indian Air Force was prepared for a conflict like Kargil, retaliation to a terrorist attack and an all-out war. During the Kargil conflict, precision bombing capabilities existed only on Mirage-2000 planes but they were now available on Su-30, Jaguar, MiG-29 and MiG-27 upgraded aircraft, Dhanoa had added.