IAF to upgrade NE airfields

NEW DELHI, July 27 – In a bid to match China’s growing air power, the Indian Air Force plans to upgrade at least eight Advanced Landing Grounds (ALG) and strategic airfields in the North Eastern Region.

This was disclosed by the outgoing Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marhsal P.V. Naik on Tuesday. “We are in the process of upgrading eight ALGs and contract for it would be signed next month and the work should be complete in three years,’’ said Air Chief Marshal Naik, who retires on July 31.

The move is part of IAF’s strategy to upgrade air defence along the Sino-Indian border. The ALGs at Pasighat, Along, Menchuka and airfields at Chabua, Mohanbari, Jorhat, Hashimara, Tezpur, amongst others are planned to be modernised.

The strategy is to ensure faster movement of men and machines to these distant areas closer to the Sino-Indian border, he said.

Meanwhile, the IAF chief said India follows a ‘no-first-use’ nuclear policy but warned its response would be “very heavy” in the event of any nuclear attack on the country.

“Our nuclear policy is of no first use. It also talks about a very heavy response in case of a nuclear attack. It talks about a retaliatory and hard response, our policy talks about that,” Naik said.

“Tactical or strategic, it is a nuclear weapon. So, obviously our response would be absolutely violent as per our existing policy. I don’t think it is a game-changer,” he added.

Asked if there was any need to be concerned about the assessment in some quarters that Pakistan had an edge over India in terms of the nuclear warheads, he said, “There is no need to be worried on this.”

Meanwhile, responding to a query on the role of HAL, Naik said that the aerospace PSU had provided great support to the IAF in the last 50-60 years. He said already some steps were being initiated by the Government to streamline the procedures in the company for improving the quality.