India S-400 Missile System: Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari, who took charge this week, said India will receive Russian-made S-400 anti-missile defence system very soon, adding that the force was ready to fight a two-front war, an oblique reference to a simultaneous war with the country’s arch rivals China and Pakistan.
“The S-400 should be inducted this year,” Chaudhari told reporters in New Delhi on Tuesday. He was addressing the press ahead of the 89th Air Force Day on October 8.
Chaudhari, who heads the world’s fourth largest air force, also expressed his concerns over presence of Chinese air force in the three air bases on India’s line of actual control with China. He said the Air Force was fully deployed and prepared to face any aggression.
Chaudhari said that China’s capability to launch multiple high altitude missions would remain weak, adding that the induction of French Rafale fighters, and American Apache combat helicopters significantly boosted the war fighting capabilities of the force.
An ace fighter pilot, Chaudhari, commanded Indian Air Force‘s Eastern Air Command and Western Air Command at the height of tense border stand-off with China that began in May last year.
“The induction of Rafale, Apaches have significantly added to our combat potential. Our offensive strike capability has become even more potent with the integration of new weapons on our fleets,” he said.
He said that the IAF is in the process of acquiring newer combat systems to ensure that the country retains an edge over her adversaries.
“We are on the verge of getting six Light Utility Helicopters from the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). We would be around 35 fighter squadrons by the next decade in view of the phasing out of old aircraft and induction of new aircraft,” he said.
Talking about the theaterisation plan of Indian military, the top officer said the force was keen to follow the jointness amongst the armed forces. He said the joint planning and execution of operations by the three services will result in a maximum increase in the country’s net combat capability.
India’s first Chief of Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat has been pushing for faster integration of assets of the three branches of Indian military under the theaterisation plan that will replace command based structure of Indian military.
In October 2018, Russia and India signed a $5.43 billion deal for supply of five regiments of S-400 anti-ballistic missiles, which is considered the best anti-ballistic missile defence system in the world.
In August this year, Russian side confirmed that Russia will begin delivery of the S-400 missiles to India by the year end. A senior Russian official also confirmed that Indian military personnel were undergoing training in Russia for operating the S-400 missile system.