Shillong: India is set to become an aerospace power in the next five to 10 years, Indian Air Force (IAF) chief-designate air marshal FH Major has said.
"We are headed for that goal slowly but steadily. If you look at the speed our country is growing, we need eyes and sensors for the sake of energy security...We will be an aerospace power definitely, perhaps not tomorrow, but five to 10 years later," news agency PTI quoted Major as saying at a press conference in this town in the north-eastern part of the country.
Allaying fears expressed by two chief ministers of north-eastern States over existing threats by the country's neighbours, Major also said that the IAF, unlike the army, had the inherent flexibility to tackle any situation at very short notice - as less as four to five hours. "Mobility and versatility of the force are not area-specific. If we need men and machines in the eastern theatre, we can fly them in from other regions," said Major. "We appreciate the threat perception more than civilians...Negating threats is our bread and butter," he added.
The air marshal takes over as IAF chief on March 31.
Speaking on the issue of the shortage of personnel, he said the situation in the IAF was not as bad as in the army. "Our shortage is marginal - only 750 officers, unlike the army where the shortage is a huge at 12,000 to 14,000." In this connection he mentioned that pay and perks in the IAF were as lucrative as in commercial aviation.