'A Case is Being Processed for Expanding the Integrated Space Cell into the Defence Space Agency, Which Will Form the Nucleus for the Future Space Command'
Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha PVSM, AVSM, VM, ADC

Arup Raha How has the IAF modernisation programme kept pace with its Long Term Integrated Perspective Plan (LTIPP) of the three services?
Modernisation is a continuous process and the IAF ensures that its modernisation plan is in consonance with the roadmap laid down in the Long Term Integrated Perspective Plan (LTIPP) which specifies the capabilities that the armed forces need to acquire over a 15 year period.

The LTIPP is divided in three Plan Periods and in case of any shortfalls, all efforts are made to make good the shortfall in subsequent Plan Periods. The impetus has been given for the modernisation of IAF that is required to be sustained in the near future to ensure that the IAF transforms into a potent force with state-of-the-art platforms and systems with cutting edge technologies.

Where does the Integrated Space Cell stand vis a vis the IAF? How long is the road to the full-fledged Space Command?
The Integrated Space Cell (ISC) at HQ IDS coordinates joint space projects. IAF interacts with the ISC regularly for effective utilisation of all joint space assets. A case is being processed for expanding the ISC at HQ IDS into the Defence Space Agency (DSA). DSA is proposed to be headed by a two-star officer under Chairman, COSC directly. It will perform the role of a Tri-Service Nodal Agency and will form the nucleus for a future Space Command.

Following the commissioning of the first Squadron of the Light Combat Aircraft Tejas, how does the IAF envisage enhancing its combat strength by the end of the 13th Plan (2022)?
The ministry of defence is preparing a road-map for induction of fighter aircraft in the IAF with an aim to build up to the sanctioned strength of 42 fighter squadrons at the earliest. The shortfall in fighter aircraft strength is planned to be made good through induction of remaining contracted Su-30MKI, LCA and Rafale aircraft. Various other options are also being considered and manufacturing of an additional type of fighter aircraft under the ‘Make in India’ initiative is being actively explored by the government. These inductions will assist in arresting the drawdown of fighter squadrons. Meanwhile, to maintain combat capability, MiG-29, Mirage-2000 and Jaguar fleets are being upgraded.

The first LCA squadron under the ‘Make in India’ banner is extremely significant due to the technological achievement, self-reliance and the boost it will provide the production of future generation fighter aircraft by the Indian military aviation industry.

With the cancellation of the A-330 MRTT programme, how does the IAF plan to meet the requirement of flight refueller aircraft?
The IAF has been pursuing the case for procurement of a flight refueller aircraft. This case was being progressed based on total cost of acquisition model which considers the life cycle costs. Deliberations are ongoing to procure mid-air refuellers on priority.

What is the update on the re-engining programme of Jaguar?
A suitable engine has been identified for re-engining of Jaguar aircraft and the project is at present at contract negotiation stage. This project would provide enhanced operational capability to the Jaguar fleet, armed with latest generation of air to ground weapons and weapon delivery navigation-attack systems.

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