The Indian Air Force (IAF) chief on Monday said that any decision to use air power to tackle the Naxals must follow a clear strategy to minimise collateral damage and added that it was always ready to face any challenge to the country's internal security.
"We have the capability to conduct strikes with utmost precision. However, it must be understood that if a 250 kg bomb is dropped at a spot, its impact will be in a radius of at least 800 metres and that may affect many people who may not themselves be insurgents," Air Chief Marshal P V Naik told reporters in Allahabad.
At the same time, he said his personal view was that the armed forces were not required to fight the Maoists.
"If at all a situation arises where the use of Air Force becomes inevitable, there has to be a clarity on the magnitude of the force we are supposed to use so that the collateral damage is minimum."
"After all, we are dealing with our own people in our own territory," the IAF chief said.
Replying to a query, he said, "So far we have not been approached by the Home Ministry for any type of help in combating Naxalites."
In an answer to a question, the Air Chief Marshal pointed to an news channel interview where he had said that the armed forces were not yet needed to fight Naxals.
"I personally still hold the view," he said.
"We would, however, like to add that even though not involved in active combat, the Indian Air Force has done its bit by conducting reconnaissance of Naxal-infested areas and sharing the inputs with the governments concerned," he said.
When asked whether the IAF had provided the Chattisgarh government with inputs prior to the Dantewada massacre Naik said, "We had deployed UAVs in the tribal state a couple of years ago and had provided inputs at that time."
He added that those inputs could not have been of any use now as at present the Air Force is not conducting any reconnaissance in the region.