India soon to master its skies through integration of assets: Major

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New Delhi, Oct 8 (UNI) Exuding confidence of moving forward in becoming a true aerospace power, Air Chief Marshal Fali S Major today said soon India would master its skies against a variety of objectives by seamlessly integrating all its assets to achieve compressed decision cycles.

Speaking at the the Air Force Day Parade 2008 at Hindon, Mr Major said the Indian Air Force will soon project aerospace power credibly within its zone of influence with precision, speed, and high intensity to become a true aerospace power.

''And towards achieving this, I am glad to inform you that all our acquisitions and upgradations are progressing in consonance with our plans. The Government has been extremely supportive in making this happen.'' While technical evaluation of the 'Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft' was in progress and flight trials would commence next year, Hawk trainers have already been inducted and flying training commenced at Bidar, he informed adding that the first 'Boeing Business Jet' had arrived and the first 'Airborne Warning and Control System' was expected early next year.

Stressing that it was ''exciting times'' for the Air Force, the IAF chief said contract for the C-130J Special Operations aircraft had been signed and helicopters in the Medium, Light and Attack class were also in the pipeline.

''There are many more projects in varying stages of completion.'' Not only this, the first BEL manufactured 'Rohini' Radar has been inducted and Medium, High and Low Level Radars will also follow, he told the audience and added that acquisition process for Surface to Air Missiles had also commenced.

''All these assets will be integrated through the 'Integrated Air Command and Control System', and AFNET with the Command&Control centres,'' he said while adding ''We seek to harness the capabilities of Space and Cyberspace to dominate the Information domain and increase transparency for better situational awareness.'' Elaborating on IAF's welfare schemes, he said the group insurance cover to Air Warriors had been enhanced to Rs 30, 15 and six lakhs for officers, airmen and NCs(E) respectively, with only a very minor increase in their contribution.

''The IAF Benevolent Association has disbursed over Rs 160 crores in welfare loans, benefiting 12,000 Air Warriors, besides enhancing the amount for scholarships by 25 percent.

Also, all loans advanced now onwards will be insured, so that the burden is not transferred to the family, in case of an unfortunate demise of an Air Warrior, he added.

Lauding the exemplary work of his men, Mr Major also acknowledged ''with gratitude'' the contribution made by his predecessors, whose vision, foresight and feats of incredible daring and courage, gave IAF its stature'' saying ''We have inherited their rich legacies, traditions and ethos. We shall always uphold these values,'' and added ''We re-dedicate ourselves to the Service of the Nation and renew our pledge to do our duty - with honour and pride.'' UNI AN MIR RAI1832

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