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India against militarisation of space: Naik

india Updated: Oct 28, 2009 13:47 IST

Air Chief Marshal P V Naik on Wednesday said India was against the militarisation of space but the country should aim to be the front-runner in the field of aerospace.

"I don't think as a nation we are for militarisation of space. In fact, the entire world is against this. We need to leave airspace alone militarily," he said when asked about China's plans to launch a space station in the near future.

The IAF Chief was speaking at a CII event here.

"A sovereign country can do whatever it wants and there is very little that you and I can do. Our aim should be to be the front-runner in everything including space. We should aim towards that," he said, adding that India has the expertise in the aerospace sector.

On the possibility of the involvement of IAF aircraft in anti-piracy operations, he said,"In areas where it is possible, it can easily be done. In far away areas, you naturally would not have the support."

Asked if the IAF had earmarked any such areas, he said, "You see the piracy-prone areas and draw your own conclusions. Wherever it is possible and air effort is required, definitely it will be made available but air effort by itself cannot do much except for providing information."

Recently, IAF Vice Chief Air Marshal P K Barbora had said the air force could also be called upon to support anti-piracy operations off the Somalian coast to deal with the expanding footprint of the pirates.

The IAF chief said the force was looking towards inducting armed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and if they are to be developed indigenously or procured from foreign sources.

Naik said that the force was looking to procure UAVs "which can be controlled from thousands of miles and should be capable of carrying a range of sensors to penetrate deep forests and bad weather depending on the tactical and strategic requirement."

Commenting on the recently held joint exercises -- CopeIndia and Yudhabhyas -- with the US armed forces, he said, "I think Indian Air Force and Indian Army need to plan their exercises better so that they are separated a little bit more because same troops and same aircraft are involved".

Agreeing on the need for simplification of the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP), the IAF chief said, "We have been revising it. The DPP-09 is due for release by November 1. There are lot of improvements and we are refining the few shortcomings (in the existing DPP)."

On the field evaluation trials of the aircraft in the race for IAF's 126 multi-role combat aircraft, he said, "We finished the trails of F-16, F/A-18, Rafale and the MiG-35. They (all aircraft) are going neck to neck".

ACM Naik stressed on the need for strengthening the domestic industry for contributing towards the defence forces' needs in the domains of metallurgy, UAVs, turbine blades, communication equipment and simple microchips.