The Indian Air Force (IAF) is enhancing its capabilities with domestically produced military hardware, including mountain radars, for the disputed border with China as the border dispute persists, according to Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari, the IAF chief. During a media briefing, he outlined plans for the induction of indigenous long-range surface-to-air missile systems, new fighter jets, upgraded combat planes, light combat helicopters, tactical ballistic missiles, trainer aircraft, and close-in weapon systems in the coming years. The expected cost of inducting indigenous equipment into the IAF in the coming years is up to ₹3 lakh crore, with ₹41,180 crore allocated for this year alone, Chaudhari stated.
Chaudhari also discussed the ongoing situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China, noting that it remains unchanged from the previous year. Consequently, the Air Force will remain deployed along the disputed frontier until complete disengagement occurs. He highlighted that the IAF continuously monitors the border situation through intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance efforts. In areas where it cannot counter the adversary’s numerical superiority, the IAF aims to address challenges through improved tactics and training. The Air Force maintains flexibility in its operational plans, which are adapted based on the evolving situation.
In response to China’s deployment of radars along the northern border, the IAF is developing its mountain radar project and deploying low-level lightweight radars. The long-term plan involves deploying mountain radars at strategic locations to provide enhanced visibility into the adversary’s territory.
Chaudhari emphasized the significance of the Indo-Pacific region as the new economic and strategic center of gravity globally. He stated that the IAF, with its capabilities in surveillance and projection of power, will play a crucial role in addressing the challenges and opportunities presented by this region.
Regarding defense contracts, he mentioned that a contract for 97 more Mk-1A fighter jets was likely to be concluded soon, following a previous contract for 83 such jets awarded to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. However, the delivery of S-400 air defense systems from Russia has been impacted by the Russia-Ukraine conflict, with three of the five systems ordered already inducted and the remaining two expected next year.
Chaudhari also addressed a midair crash involving a Sukhoi-30 and a Mirage 2000 in Madhya Pradesh, attributing the accident to human error and mentioning revisions to standard operating procedures. He emphasized the need for the IAF to keep pace with technological advancements in modern warfare, focusing on force multipliers such as AI-based decision tools, electronic warfare equipment, robust networks, and space and cyber capabilities.