''IAF equal to combined air power of China-Pakistan''

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Varanasi, Sep 30 (UNI) Admitting that China was the most formidable opponent for the Indian Air Force, a senior IAF official today said they could, tactically, still face the combined fire power of China and Pakistan.

Interacting with mediapersons here this evening, Senior Officer-in-Charge Administration of Central Air Command HQ, Air Vice Marshal R Khurana said ''Pakistan is our immediate neighbour, but China is more formidable opponent for the IAF. We, however, can face even the combined air power of China and Pakistan, if the need ever arose.'' Stating that IAF was the fourth largest air force in the world, AVM Khurana said ''only when we leave dependence on imported fighter aircraft and instead go for manufacturing the entire air equipment on our own can India become the best Air Force in the world.'' AVM Khurana was in the city to welcome Triveni -- the four-day IAF rowing expedition from Allahabad to Varanasi, which arrived at the Dashwashamedh Ghat here this evening. The 15-strong expedition to mar the Platinum Jubilee of IAF, was led by Group Captain A K Sharma.

AVM Khurana further said ''arrival of more and more multi-role fighter aircrafts will add to the efficacy of the IAF, whose effective range has improved significantly with the obtaining of Air-to-Air Refuellers for the fighter fleet.'' Terming Central Air Command as the most strategic Air Command among the five operational Air Commands, he said this command gave the much needed strategic depth to the IAF especially in times of exigency. We strategically preserve the most vital assets of the IAF, which becomes very crucial during wartime operations,'' he noted.

Listing amibitious plans for the Varanasi Air Station of Central Air Command, AVM Khurana said ''air shows to showcase the real power of IAF could soon become a reality in Varanasi, if the Station in Charge forwarded a proposal to Allahabad. Presently, Air shows are held in Allahabad, Bakshi Ka Talab in Lucknow and Agra.'' UNI

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