Interview | Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari PVSM, AVSM, VM, ADC

The IAF Believes That the Integration of Cyber and Electronic Domains has the Capability to Bring Down the War Fighting Capability of an Adversary


Vivek Ram ChaudhariWhat are the short- and medium-term targets of the Centre of Excellence for Artificial Intelligence under UDAAN? What technologies is the IAF prioritising?

Keeping the future air warfare strategies in consideration, the Indian Air Force has taken proactive steps to embed AI-based technologies in all its war fighting processes. Absorption of AI is being enabled through AI Centre of Excellence with high end AI servers and big data storage facilities under the aegis of UDAAN (Unit for Digitisation, Automations, Artificial Intelligence and Application Networking).

The IAF is in the process of embedding these technologies in short and medium term in the areas of Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance, Command Control and Reporting, Campaign Planning, Forecasting Operational Stamina, Aircraft Maintenance and e-Governance. Technologies of Natural Language Processing, Deep Learning, and Machine Learning are being used for forecasting, predictive maintenance and intelligent decision making for Network Centric Warfare.


What is the update on the MRFA programme? There is speculation that MRFA may not materialise due to budgetary reasons and the IAF will be forced to strike a balance with more Su-30MKI, LCA MkI & MkII, the Rafale already contracted for and the AMCA when it comes. What is the IAF’s position on this?

The IAF plans to induct six squadrons of MRFA in a phased manner. The IAF is studying the responses of the RFI issued in April 2018 and the Air Staff Qualitative Requirements for the current proposal are being finalised prior to seeking government approval. The programme would be progressed under ‘Make in India’ initiative of DAP-2020 focusing on substantial transfer of key technologies to an Indian Production Agency (IPA). In this regard, feedback has been sought from vendors. On obtaining this information, the process of issuing the RFP would be initiated. There are no budgetary hindrances affecting the MRFA programme presently.


Has the IAF finalised Vision 2050? How will this be different from Vision 2020?

The IAF is currently working to finalise its Vision 2047 and we should be able to release it shortly. It would be significantly different from Vision 2020 as our environment, both external, and internal has changed significantly. We are making assessments of the future based on observed trajectories and trends, and formulating it accordingly. But suffice it to say, that the IAF of 2047, will be a true aerospace force capable of offering a wide range of options to the leadership in support of national security objectives.


Defence minister Rajnath Singh has recently spoken about the need for integrated theatre commands. What adjustments is the IAF willing to make to participate in integrated theatre commands without compromising its operational preparedness?

The need for Joint Planning, Distributed Control and Integrated Execution is the way forward. In this effort, our aim is to enhance our overall preparedness with robust joint structures at national level followed by an incremental approach towards bringing about jointness and coordination right to the last combatant.


Cyber and electronic warfare has emerged as two sides of a coin. While one protects the data, the other protects the waveforms carrying the data. What is the IAF doing about integrating these into its operational profile?

The overarching effect of cyber and information on the conduct of conventional wars has created a new, hybrid and multi domain spectrum of conflict resulting in older tactics and strategies becoming passé. Therefore, to secure our borders, there is a definite imperative to Reimagine, Reform, Redesign and Rebuild our traditional war-fighting machinery and adapt to this new emerging paradigm.

The new, hybrid and multi domain spectrum of conflict is a zone wherein ‘Unconventional Operations’ are being dovetailed in conventional wars. These carefully designed asymmetric operations involve activities that have the potential for devastating effects. The IAF also understands that the agility and swiftness of operations matters the most and therefore, we strongly believe that the integration of cyber and electronic domains has the capability to bring down the war fighting capability of an adversary and will help in safeguarding our interests. All electronic warfare sensors and their control networks are thus mandatorily evaluated for cyber security clearances before being integrated into our operational network. Also, live monitoring and auditing of EW systems is being done to ensure a safe cyber posture.



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