India is not expecting a war with China on the border issue, but is fully battle-ready if such a situation arises, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria underscored on Saturday.
“We are not at war with China, but we fully geared up to meet any contingency arising out the recent conflict on the Line of Actual Control (LAC),” Bhadauria said, while interacting with reporters after reviewing the combined graduation parade of 123 Indian Air Force cadets at Air Force Academy at Dundigal on the outskirts of Hyderabad.
Replying to a query on his assessment of the situation on the LAC in the wake of his visit to the airbases in Leh and Srinagar in the last two days, the Air Chief Marshal said the army was in full control of the situation at Galwan valley, the site where 20 Indian soldiers died in the line of duty while fighting the Chinese troops.
“The army has already given a statement to this effect. At the same time, our Air Force is also ready to supplement the efforts of the army by deploying additional battalions to meet the contingency, if required,” he said.
Asked whether the more fighter aircraft would be moved to Leh and Srinagar in view of his visits, Bhadauria said the IAF has airbases at several strategic locations in the country, not just Leh. “We shall assess the situation and go about with our deployments. However, we have stepped up our deployments after the recent conflicts with China post-May,” he said.
To another question, he said the Air Force was capable of handling the situation in high altitude regions, but for tactical reasons it cannot disclose where and how the deployments would be made. “We shall do and we are doing it as per the requirements,” he said.
Asked what message he wants to send to the adversaries, Bhadauria said India did not want to send any message to its adversaries but would always be prepared to defend its territories. “Why should I send any message to the adversaries,” he said.
The air force chief said the IAF cadets who had graduated on Saturday would be directly reporting to their assigned squadrons and units in view of the current situation so that they would get into action whenever it was required.
Earlier, addressing the newly graduated cadets, Bhadauria said the sacrifices made by Indian soldiers at Galwan valley in Ladakh would not go in vain.
“It should be very clear that we are well prepared and suitably deployed to respond to any contingency. I assure the nation that we are determined to deliver and will never let the sacrifice of our braves of Galwan go in vain,” he said.
The forces were well prepared and suitable equipment was in place, he said, adding that the face off at Ladakh was a small snapshot of what the armed forces were required to handle at a short notice.
In spite of unacceptable Chinese actions after agreements reached during military talks and resultant loss of life, all efforts are being made to ensure that the current situation at the LAC is resolved peacefully, he said.
“Please join me in paying tribute to Colonel Santosh Babu and his brave men who made the sacrifice while defending the LAC in Galwan Valley. The gallant actions in a highly challenging situation have demonstrated our resolve to protect India’s sovereignty at any cost,” Bhadauria said.
The IAF chief conferred the ‘President’s Commission’ to 123 graduating trainees, including 19 women cadets, of various branches. The ceremony comprised presentation of ‘Wings’ and ‘Brevets’ to the Flight Cadets who successfully completed Flying and Navigation training respectively.
The parade was followed by a brief, but spectacular air show by Pilatus, Kiran Hawk, Chetak helicopters and an aerobatic display by Surya Kiran Aerobatic Team (SKAT) of the IAF.
The graduating IAF cadets, officers and all the dignitaries who attended the ceremony wore face masks and maintained social distance in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. The parents of the cadets were also not allowed to view the parade this time because of the pandemic.