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IAF Better Prepared Post Pathankot Attack, Says Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha

"The second setback was the missing of the AN-32. It is one of the worst memories in my career."

28/12/2016 12:31 PM IST | Updated 28/12/2016 12:54 PM IST
Hindustan Times via Getty Images

NEW DELHI -- Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, on Wednesday backed his predecessor S.P. Tyagi presently in dock in connection with the Agusta Westland case and said that he must be given his due till charges against him are proved.

However, the Air Chief asserted that the Indian Air Force (IAF) won't have any sympathy against Tyagi once the charges are proved.

"The agencies have not been proved much. Till charges are proved, we must give him his due. The former air force chief is like an extended family member and we should stand by him. But once the charges are proved, we should not have sympathies," the Air Chief said.

"In AW101 case where investigation agencies have found evidence, I believe, as a result our former air chief was put into custody. We believe that law of the land should be followed and once the probe is complete we will abide by whatever the court decides," he added.

A Special Court had earlier on Monday granted bail to Tyagi while pulling up the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for failing to show evidence on how much cash was paid to him and when.

A Delhi court had on 17 December remanded Tyagi and two other accused to judicial custody till 30 December.

Earlier, the CBI had moved the court seeking a 10-day custody to interrogate Tyagi and the others accused in this case. Tyagi has been accused of influencing the deal in favour of AgustaWestland during his tenure as the IAF chief. He has, however, repeatedly denied the allegations.

Arup Raha further said the Pathankot terror attack earlier in January this year was the first setback, adding that they are now better prepared having learnt lessons from the same.

"Pathankot was the first setback. We have learnt lessons and are better prepared now. The second setback was the missing of the AN-32. Even after efforts, we could not trace the aircraft. We are helping their families. It is one of the worst memories in my career. AN-32s don't have Underwater Locater Beacons. We have taken up the case with the government," the Air Chief said.

The Air Chief said on operational preparedness, they are dwindling with the fighters.

"We paid attention to latest acquisitions and upgrades of the aircrafts we have. On Rafael, we have invited LCA. Three are flying and we will accept 123 in next 10 years. The second squadron of C130 will come soon. It will be based at the Arjangadh base. Large numbers of radars which are indigenous have been inducted. The Air Force is well on its way to have network centric capabilities. We have done reasonably well in looking after the sub-conventional threat like terrorism and other conventional threat," he added.

He asserted that the revenue cases languishing since long have been signed due the proactiveness of the government and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.

"The average flying we did was more than the average flying of last 10 years. We have flown in the fighter fleet 40,000 hrs, more than last 10 years due to better serviceability. We have done an average night flying of 27 percent which was less earlier. There has been a large improvement in the professional capabilities. We have been involved deeply in the operations against Naxalism, logistics support, flying by night," he added.

The Air Chief also said that they have upgraded the Advanced Landing Grounds (ALGs) in northeast.

"The government has given approval of 27 flights of Garuns, with each having 45 Grains. 23 more Garun Flights will be raised later. (Garun is the special force under the Indian Air Force). We have been able to sign various cases in the last two and a half years including Rafale which will be in India. It will be operational within next three years to five and a half years," he added.

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