Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne on Wednesday said despite getting a massive response from the applicants, the Air Force is short of 550 officers as the present infrastructure is adequate to train only 485 pilots every year.
The Air Chief Marshal said this at an award ceremony of Presidential Standard to 220 Squadron and 32 Squadron of the Air Force at Halwara.
The Air Chief Marshal said they had plans to increase the capacity to train more than 700 pilots every year as a training base would soon come up in Gujarat. "Under our motivational programmes we are reaching out to students in educational institutes, including schools and colleges, and the response is overwhelming as we received three lakh applications against 300 vacancies last year," the Chief of Air Staff said.
When asked about the applications of senior IAF officials for voluntary retirement in the last two years citing less promotional avenues as the reason, the Chief of Air Staff said the IAF had a policy under which every official was given due recognition for his/her services. "The Air Force takes care of its employees even after their retirement as recently we helped 230 of our retirees to get employment in Bangalore Metro," said Browne.
Replying to the query on the Pilatus PC-7 Mark II aircraft, the IAF chief said the induction of the trainer aircraft was an important landmark in the country's quest to modernise its armed forces.
He said since HPT 32 was grounded in 2009 owing to 19 fatal accidents, Pilatus PC-7 had come as a blessing, especially looking at the responsibility to take care of the precious lives of pilots.
He said the rescue operations were carried out by the IAF in the Uttarakhand earthquake and help was extended to conduct elections in Chhattisgarh.
The IAF chief said the construction of six airfields in the northern region was underway which would be complete in two years, followed by three more in the next few years.
However, the Chief of Air Staff evaded the question on the Augusta Westland scam saying the government would answer the query.