Pilots shortage in IAF but situation not alarming: IAF Chief

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Bangalore, Feb 14 (UNI) Indian Air Force Chief Air Marshal F H Major today said there was a 'slight' shortage of 250 to 300 pilots in the IAF, but situation was not alarming.

Speaking to the media on the sidelines of the International Flight Test Seminar organised by the Aircraft and System Testing Establishment (ASTE) here, he said the IAF had started a short term service of 14 years for pilots to attract more pilot officers.

''We have shortage of 250-300 pilots and we can make it up any time. The situation is not alarming. The short-term service commission will help us bridge the gap. This will also help the fast growing civil aviation sector as it could get well trained pilots once they are discharged from the force.'' However, short-term service would comprise only a certain percentage of the total number of pilots in the force, he said.

Other than this, the IAF was looking up to the Centre to provide better pay packages to the pilots. ''We hope the Sixth Pay Commission will give a boost in this regard,'' he said.

Union Minister of State for Defence Pallam Raju said the three armed forces together had a shortage of officers to the tune of 12,000 at present.

''We have to ensure that there is an adequate pool available for the armed forces. For this, we have to strengthen Sainik Schools.

Unfortunately we are not getting enough support from most State Governments,'' he regretted.

Mr Raju said it was the responsibility of state governments to look after the Sainik Schools. However, in most of the states, the armed forces were not getting adequate support in this respect.

''These schools are feeder institutions and are very important.

Twenty five per cent of the cadets come to the NDA from the Sainik Schools. So if we have to ensure enough supply of officers into the armed forces, we have to strengthen the Sainik Schools,'' he said.

The Minister said the intake from National Cadet Corps (NCC) had also been increased. The percentage intake of officers, with 'C' certificates in NCC, into the armed forces had been increased.

However, there will not be any dilution of standards, he said.

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