Indian Air Force is equipped with a backup plan in case of a two-front war scenario with Pakistan and China. Taking the squadron strength into account, the IAF currently have 33 squadrons, out of which 10 squadrons are to be phased out.
Addressing a press conference in New Delhi on the eve of the Air Force Day, Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa said, “We need 42 squadrons to fight a full spectrum war, but that doesn’t mean we are not capable of fighting a two front-war. We have a Plan-B to cater to the scenario with reduced strength.”
The needful number of 42 squadrons is likely to be settled by 2032.
“The possibility of a two front war is low in current geopolitical scenario. But our response would be in according to the enemy’s capability as the intention of the enemy can change overnight,” said the 25th Chief of the Air Staff of the Indian Air Force.
“On a single-front scenario, we can deal with Pakistan and our capability against China is adequate,” he added.
The People’s Liberation Army Air Force of China couldn’t operate several of its fighter aircraft with full weapon load from Tibetan air bases because of the region’s unpropitious air density and altitude which gave India an edge against China, as pointed out by Dhanoa.
Speaking about the preparation and involvement of IAF in a surgical strike on terror camps across LOC, Dhanoa gave a powerful message to Pakistan. He said the Air Force is capable of hitting nuclear sites across the border, provided the government decides on another surgical strike, as a full-fledged war would have to be a political decision.
Dhanoa also said “More than 6000 airmen in the force are prepared now to respond to Pathankot-like incidents in the future.”
When asked if India could take on Pakistan’s tactical and nuclear arsenal, he said, “the air force has the capability to locate, fix and strike the targets across the border,” and for any operation “we are always ready that if anything goes wrong, our air defence should be on high alert should the enemy retaliate,” he added in a press meet on Thursday.
He also spoke about the Doklam stand-off that went on for 72 days near India-Bhutan-China tri-junction and said the IAF’s capabilities against China are also sufficient.
The Air Chief Marshal also warned that any infiltration of terrorists from the currently operational camps across the LOC will be “received” and dispatched to their graves by the Indian Army.