Former Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa (Photo Credit: PTI)
The Indian Air Force needs to “reorient and retrain” itself to a changed paradigm of war, former Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa said here on Sunday. He also said the Rafale fighter aircraft and S400 missile defence system will help restore technological asymmetry in India’s favour. “Though the Indian Air Force has trained itself to fight a full-scale conventional war in a joint campaign with sister services, it has to reorient and retrain itself to the changed paradigm. It must plan and address capability voids in due course of time,” the former Air Chief Marshal said.
He was speaking on the topic ‘IAF In The Changed Security Paradigm’ at the fifth Flying Officer Nirmal Jeet Singh Sekhon PVC annual memorial lecture organised here by the Gujarat chapter of the Air Force Association.
Speaking on likely scenarios of the future, the IAF chief (retd) Dhanoa said, “We come to realise that sub-conventional conflict over terrorist attack on one of our installations and personnel has the highest probability of occurrence, because it can happen anytime and anywhere. This is something for which we need to be prepared 24/7.”
“A skirmish or a localised conflict like Kargil due to a terrorist attack that has gone awry like Uri and Pulwama is within the realm of possibility of our western neighbour,” he said.
The former IAF chif added that there was a need to “re-prioritise our expenditure based on this changed paradigm”.
“Hence spending on the integrated perimeter security system of our bases is more important than bemoaning not having a full authorised centre required for a two-front war,” he said.
The former IAF chief also said, “With the induction of Rafale and S-400, the technological asymmetry will once again be restored in our favour. Even if there is going to be a paradigm shift in the way they are going to fight the next war, there is a need to have a technological superiority so that our deterrence remains effective and we can maintain the peace”.
He underlined the needs for a “full-spectrum capability”, as the enemy keeps modernising, and to address some of the “capability voids”.
Stressing that cyber and space were two new domains which have to be defended strongly, the former ACM said, “The way we have a network-enabled force, there are so many systems riding on our communication network, and very shortly deployment of operational data link, we will become a network force.”
“Cyber will have to be defended very strongly. Second is space, initially used only for telecommunication...add a new dimension which has changed the paradigm,” he added.
Former IAF chief Dhanoa said the surgical strike carried out in retaliation to the attack on the Uri base has signalled a paradigm shift in the way Indian government would respond to terrorist attacks involving mass casualties.
“A surgical strike was authorised, and Balakot strike was approved by the government to send a political message to Pakistan that such attacks will incur a heavy price.
“Pakistan government got the message that the new government will respond militarily to major terrorist attacks on its soil....This happened because of decisive national leadership in place, backed by the fact that should it escalate, we are ready for it at short notice. After all, it was a joint battle, and government cannot battle without all the three services being ready,” he said.
Regarding the Balakot strike, the former IAF chief said going after a “non military target” was “a very wise decision”.
“The operational capability and our intelligence capability cannot be compromised to just try and win the perception battle in the media. But both the Pakistani establishment and (terror group) Jaish-e-Mohammed got the message,” he said.
The former IAF chief further said that there were no major terror attacks between February and June, 2019 till the conclusion of the Lok Sabha polls because the Army, Navy and Air Force were “forward deployed to give a punitive response at a very short notice.”
He added that the attack on a terror camp in Pakistan was meant to give a message to that country’s establishment, and “not to the Pakistani public, or an effort to win a propaganda battle with the Pakistani and international media”.
“Had it been so, we would have used different weapons and different modes of attacks for which presently Pakistan has no counter,” he added.
Lt General PM Hariz (retd) and Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar (retd) also delivered speeches on the occasion.