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India working on space weapons: IAF chief

October 07, 2003 03:32 IST

Indian Air Force chief S Krishnaswamy on Monday said work has started on an aerospace command to have weapon platforms in space.

He said the IAF has obtained strategic depth operational capability with the induction of mid-air refuellers and more of advanced SU-30 MKI fighters.

"Any country on the fringe of space technology like India has to work towards such a command as advanced countries are already moving towards laser weapon platforms in space and killer satellites," he said.

Asserting that such futuristic weapons systems were no longer in the realms of science fiction, the air chief said, "IAF has started work on conceptualising such a weapons systems and its operational command system."

Krishnaswamy said the Strategic Forces command has become 'operational'. "Elements that are supposed to be there are there along with a newly set up chain of command and operational manuals," he added.

While conceding that there were some 'hiccups' in the efforts to build an indigenous air attack defence missile systems like Akash and Trishul, Krishnaswamy said the slippages were temporary.

In the meantime the IAF as an interim measure could go in for import of limited Surface to Air missiles, besides upgrading the existing Russian Plethora missiles, he said.

The air chief said two of the six IL-78 refuellers had arrived from Uzbekistan. The rest of the four would be inducted by the yearend, he added.

He said the Su-30MKI and deep penetration strike aircraft Jaguars had mid-air refuelling capability, while work was on to procure the refuelling nozzles for the French-made Mirage 2000.

"We have already conducted exercises with refuellers between Pune and Car Nicobar and the deployment capability had been proven with aircraft remaining in the air for over ten hours without landing," Krishnaswamy said.

He said two squadrons of the upgraded Mi-21 Bisons had become operational and the third was in the process of going through final flying and training tests in Ozar in Nashik in Maharashtra.

The air chief said three more Bison squadrons would become operational by March next year.    

Asserting that IAF has taken up a major modernisation drive, Krishnaswamy said approval was given to have 17 kinds of simulators for the IAF, including for Mig-27s, Jaguars, Mirage 2000s as well as for transport aircraft like AN-32 and IL-76.

Besides this, he said IAF would also import simulators for electronic warfare systems and for Air Traffic Control.

On defence aviation, the air chief said India might have to opt for a joint alliance for building fifth generation fighters and transport aircraft. This many involve, he added, divestment in defence aviation sector and export of armament systems to friendly countries.

On the Light Combat Aircraft, Krishnaswamy said the indigenous jets would be inducted into the IAF in a phased manner. The first batch will be ready by 2007, he added.

He said the development of the country's first indigenous aero engine 'Kaveri', which would make India the eighth nation in the world with such a technology, would take some time as the engines would have to undergo more trials.

Krishnaswamy said the first squadron of LCA would have to fly with the imported US GE 404 engines.

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