Defence Minister inaugurates IAF Commanders’ Conference in Delhi

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Sayan Chatterjee

New Delhi : The first biannual IAF Commanders’ Conference of 2018 was inaugurated on Thursday by Defense Minister , Nirmala Sitharaman at Air Headquarters (Vayu Bhawan), New Delhi, India.

Chief of the Air Staff, ACM BS Dhanoa, welcomed  Raksha Mantri  Nirmala Sitharaman,  Raksha Rajya Mantri Dr Subhash Bhamre and Defence Secretary Shri Sanjay Mitra at the meet. He further, introduced all the IAF Top Commanders to the Raksha Mantri.

CAS later briefed Raksha Mantri on the current status of the IAF and on Exercise ‘Gagan Shakti’, which was conducted earlier in April this year. CAS highlighted that the exercise was very fruitful in testing IAFs surge operations capability, logistics supply chain, rapid augmentation of personnel, inter theatre move of forces, communication network and reliability of equipment & systems. It would be pertinent to recall that Raksha Mantri had visited North Eastern Sector during the exercise to witness Air to Ground weapon delivery by IAF fighters and helicopters, operation from ALGs, accelerated fighter operations and Garud Assault Drill.

In the cusp, particularly when China is increasing its air power and Pakistan making efforts to boost its military strength it was clearly a thorough review of the country’s preparedness to deal with any aerial threat.

While addressing the IAF Commanders, RM praised the exemplary conduct of IAF’s biggest exercise in the recent times. She complimented all the personnel for sustaining round the clock operations in the most professional manner. She said that the focus of Exercise ‘Gagan Shakti’ was to draw lessons for evolving the doctrinal loop which is an ongoing process. She mentioned that Exercise ‘Gagan Shakti’ was a landmark exercise for IAF. She complimented the IAF for a leadership role in jointmanship which was evident during the exercise and congratulated the Army and Navy for supporting the Air Force in achieving the objectives of ‘Gagan Shakti’.

While laying down her vision for contribution of the IAF towards indigenization, she emphasized that being a tech intensive service the IAF should pioneer in laying the roadmap for absorption and production of high end aviation technology products in India and propel India’s growth in these sectors as envisaged in Government of India’s ‘Make in India’ policy in the next 15 years.

The Raksha Mantri also commended the IAF for the key role played by it in nation building by way of promoting regional connectivity by rendering support towards the UDAN scheme. The IAF has opened up several of its airfields for civil aircraft operations in furtherance of the scheme.

RM complemented the IAF for setting precedence on several aspects of jointness as suggested by the Prime Minister. She specifically highlighted the efforts of IAF for having issued a path-breaking order empowering the CINCAN to exercise full control over the IAF officers deputed to work with him.

The conference is planned for two days. Commanders will discuss the operational, maintenance and administrative takeaways identified during the Exercise and the way ahead for the defence wing.