IAF needs 450 more aircraft 'now' to push China back: Subramanian Swamy

Swamy has been consistent in warning about the danger of Chinese military action

iaf formation air force day An IAF C-17 transport aircraft (centre), flanked by a pair of MiG-29 fighters and Su-30MKI jets (outer formation) on Air Force Day 2020 | Twitter handle of IAF

BJP Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy has been consistent in warning about the danger of possible Chinese military action on the Line of Actual Control.

Last month, Swamy claimed that China had moved "large numbers" of Russian Sukhoi fighter jets to the Tibet border. Swamy warned that this could be an indication Beijing was readying for "retaliation" against India.

On Thursday, Swamy expressed scepticism about the Indian Air Force's expansion plans. Swamy referred to comments by Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria earlier this week, when he said up to "450 indigenous aircraft" of various types would be inducted into the Indian Air Force in the next 10 to 15 years.

Swamy tweeted that the induction timeframe was too long, considering the Chinese threat. Commenting on an article in Financial Express that reported the Indian Air Force chief's comments, Swamy noted, "Next decade!! We need it [new aircraft] now if we want to send the PLA troops back to from where they came, or be cremated in Ladakh if they refuse to. go back."

During his annual press conference ahead of Air Force Day, Bhadauria had noted the Indian Air Force was set to finalise orders with HAL for 83 Tejas MK-1A fighters and 12 Su-30MKI jets. Bhadauria added the Indian Air Force was also close to signing contracts for 106 HTT-40 trainer aircraft and the Light Combat Helicopter.

Subramanian Swamy may be accused of going overboard on a number of issues, but his argument of the Indian Air Force needing more aircraft has been emphasised previously by experts and veterans.

In August, two Indian experts wrote an article in Foreign Policy that noted 36 Rafale aircraft were not enough for India to counter both Pakistan and China. The article noted the Indian Air Force would reach an operational strength of 30 squadrons by 2025, 12 less than the approved strength. The Foreign Policy article stated that both the Pakistani and Chinese air forces "far outnumber India’s and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future". The article also emphasised China and Pakistan had also fielded a greater number of 'force multipliers' such as aerial refuellers and airborne early-warning aircraft than the Indian Air Force.

In June, Arjun Subramanian, a former Indian Air Force air vice marshal, warned China could have nearly twice as many fighter aircraft squadrons as the Indian Air Force by 2030.

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