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Friday, Dec 13, 2019

Balakot reflects shift in govt’s counterterror policy: IAF chief

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah also appreciated the IAF’s contributions.

india Updated: Oct 09, 2019 00:17 IST
Peeyush Khandelwal
The Air Warriors Drill Team display their skills
The Air Warriors Drill Team display their skills(Ajay Aggarwal/HT )

The unprecedented, cross-border air strikes in Pakistan’s Balakot on February 26 in response to the Pulwama suicide car bombing reflect a “major policy shift” in the government’s policy towards handling terrorist attacks, Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria said in a message on the air force’s 87th founding day.

“The strategic relevance of this [the Balakot air strikes] is the resolve of the political leadership to punish the perpetrators of terrorism and the capability of the IAF to execute a strike inside Pakistan,” Bhadauria said in a written message, calling it a major policy shift. He said high serviceability of combat equipment and exceptional training standards were imperative for operational success in all future operations.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah also appreciated the IAF’s contributions. “On Air Force Day, a proud nation expresses gratitude to our air warriors and their families. The Indian Air Force continues to serve India with utmost dedication and excellence,” the PM tweeted.

Shah said the IAF was a symbol of symbol of valour and courage. “On Air Force Day, I salute our Air Force heroes and their families. Entire nation is proud of your dedication and commitment to safeguard our motherland.”

In his IAF Day address, Bhadauria touched upon a raft of issues such as operational readiness, Balakot, indigenisation, modernisation, flight safety and welfare. He said the IAF must stay combat worthy at all times for any contingency that may arrive at a short notice.

“In the recent years, the geopolitical environment has been rapidly changing and uncertainties have created numerous challenges to national security. It is extremely important that we are always vigilant and alert to the existing sub-conventional threat.”

He also acknowledged the contribution of all those who contributed to the success of the air strikes at Balakot and counted the successful conduct of Exercise Vayu Shakti at the Pokhran range as one of the air force’s high points during the last year.

Bhadauria said indigenisation was the key to achieving “true strategic autonomy.” “I would like to put on record that the IAF is fully committed towards indigenous development of high technology hardware in consonance with ‘Make in India’.”