IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, said on Saturday that the strategic gravity is shifting from west to east, especially to Asia and Asia Pacific, and "India faces security challenges in the region due to an assertive China and an intrusive Pakistan".
"The situation is not good for the environment, as peaceful rise of China remains a distant dream. An assertive China is investing heavily in developing military power, especially aerospace power, laying claims on international waters, island territories and air space over South China Sea and East China Sea," Raha said during the eighth annual Air Chief Marshal LM Katre memorial lecture.
Noting that the situation in South Asia spawning Afghanistan and Pakistan was going to be delicate, especially after the withdrawal of the US-led allied forces, the chief of air staff said Pakistan was the fountainhead of terrorism, encouraging terrorist activities despite being a part of the global war on terror.
"Withdrawal of American and western forces from Afghanistan will create a very delicate situation for India in terms of some conventional threats to us. Similarly, the IS (Islamic State) gaining strength in West Asia poses another challenge for us to deal with proper planning and induction of forces, especially aerospace power," he said.
Raha said China was developing capabilities to fight major conflicts over the next 35 years, as mentioned by a security analyst in Hong Kong in an article recently.
"By 2050, China wants to annex Taiwan, occupy the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, annex South Tibet and Arunachal from India, get hold of Senkaku Islands of Japan and recover lost territories in Russia and Mangolia," Raha said.
Claiming that India had no territorial ambition except to recover the land lost due to historical reasons, the Indian Air Force chief said with a hostile border left behind as a legacy of the British rule, the situation in the neighbourhood, specially on the western border, was vulnerable.
"Our aim is not to occupy but deter our enemy from waging war against us with striking capability to penetrate into the enemy's territory with air power and expose the vulnerability of the adversary," he said.
Khatre was the chief of air staff in 1984-85 and chairman of the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd., which makes military aircraft for the IAF.
The day-long event was organised by the Air Force Association of Karnataka branch in association with the Aeronautical Society of India and HAL.
HAL chairman RK Tyagi also spoke to the gathering of about 500 serving and retired officers, air warriors and other stakeholders.