|Defence Minister Rajnath Singh | Hindustan Times|
The Indian Air Force’s top commanders will assemble in the capital later this week for a three-day conference focusing on strategies to scale up its capabilities to have an edge over its adversaries, the defence ministry said on Monday.
Defence minister Rajnath Singh will inaugurate the biannual IAF commanders’ conference on April 15.
The meeting comes at a time when India and China have been locked in a standoff for over 11 months and are currently negotiating a withdrawal of troops and weapons from friction points on the contested Line of Actual Control (LAC). IAF remains in a high state of readiness in the Ladakh sector.
“The conference of apex-level leadership is aimed at addressing the issues of IAF’s operational capabilities in the times to come. A series of discussions will be conducted to address strategies and policies related to capabilities that will give IAF a significant edge over its adversaries,” an official statement said.
The conference also comes at a time when IAF gearing up to raise its second squadron of Rafale fighter jets at the Hasimara airbase in West Bengal.
As India and China negotiate a complex disengagement process in the Ladakh sector, the air forces of both countries are deployed in the theatre as they were when the border row was at its peak last year, as previously reported by Hindustan Times.
India and China have held 11 rounds of military talks so far to resolve border tensions that began last May.
At the latest 11th round of military talks with China on April 9, the Indian Army told the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) that completion of disengagement at all friction points was must for de-escalation of the border conflict.
Apart from deploying fighter jets at bases in the Ladakh-Tibet theatre, PLA Air Force has positioned a large number of radars and missiles in the sector.
IAF has projected its capability to carry out day-and-night, all-weather combat missions in the Ladakh sector, with front-line fighter jets, attack helicopters and multi-mission choppers deployed there. It also deployed its new Rafale fighter jets in the sector as part of India’s overarching plan to strengthen its military posture in the region.
The IAF Commanders’ Conference comes at a time India is planning to begin a formal roll-out of its long-awaited theaterisation plan to best utilise its military’s resources amid growing security threats, with the Air Defence Command and the Maritime Theatre Command set to be launched by May. India will also have three other integrated commands to secure its western, northern and eastern fronts — these are likely to be rolled out by December 2022.
In addition, a logistics command is in the works to avoid duplication of efforts and resources.