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IAF to acquire 126 new fighters: Tyagi
March 12, 2007 13:58 IST
Indian Air Force would acquire 126 new fighter aircraft and 40 additional Sukhoi-30 in 2007 to augment its fleet, Chief of Air Staff S P Tyagi said on Monday. Negotiations for the purchase of fighter aircraft were on and the best bidder would get the contract, he told reporters during his visit to Southern Air Command headquarters on Monday.
The Air Force would get three Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft by the end of 2007.
AWACS was a multi-national product of Uzbekistan, Russia and Israel. By the middle of this year, IAF would directly purchase 24 out of the 66 `Hawks' (Advanced Jet Trainers) required by the Force from United Kingdom.
The remaining Hawks would be produced at HAL. Eighty new helicopters from Russia would also be acquired this year, Tyagi said.
The Chief of Air Staff said two airfields would soon be built at Sulur near Coimbatore and Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu. The Sulur airfield would a base for Light Combat Aircraft, he added.
He said the role of armed forces in ensuring national security had increased as India was a strong economic power now. "No society in the world has grown economically without a strong armed force and India needs a stronger force," he said.
Armed forces were now needed to protect India's interests across the boundaries and the coastline. "Our international commitments are increasing and the Forces are being asked to play an international diplomatic role," he said.
Tyagi said the country's requirement of strategic reach outside the boundaries should not be misunderstood as `territorial ambitions'.
As economic challenges, trade and energy security take precedence over peninsular issues, the role of armed forces in protecting nation's interests became crucial, he said.
The IAF had successfully undertaken humanitarian missions in US, Indonesia, Pakistan and Maldives. Joint exercises were being held with many countries.
IAF personnel would be in U K in July to exercise with the Royal Air Force and with Singapore Air Force by 2007.
The IAF had just finished exercising with the French, he said.