Russia-Ukraine war has not made huge impact on supply of spare parts, indigenisation efforts helped: Air Force chief

Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari, said on Monday that the Russia-Ukraine war has “not made a huge impact” on the supply of spare parts of Russian-origin defence equipment, especially due to India’s robust stocking policy and indigenisation efforts.

Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari was interacting with the media after the passing-out parade of the 142nd course of the National Defence Academy (NDA) in Pune. He was the Reviewing Officer for the parade which was held at the Khetrapal Ground of the academy in the morning.

When asked about the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war, considering India’s dependence on Russia for defence imports, the Air Chief Marshal said: “Yes, we are dependent on Russia for a large number of items. But this has not made a huge impact . Our spare stocking policy has been very robust and we have already catered for the future requirements. We have indigenised a large number of spares that we have been importing from Russia for many years. We have a fairly reasonable assurance of not being deprived of spares for the coming few years.”

When asked about the intended shift from import dependence to export dominance, he said: “The answer is in ‘atma nirbharta’ and efforts towards ‘make in India’. We have said that we will keep out global purchases to the minimum. Anything that we require for the future will be made in India.”

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Answering a question on the recently released Global Air Power ranking in which the Indian Air Force was positioned after US and Russian forces, surpassing China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force, he said: “It was a pleasant surprise for us too. The ranking is based on on a total value, which is dependent not only on the hardware but also on other factors, including the diversity of equipment, spares, software, information systems etc. We have got a fairly robust network system to plan our operations, logistics and maintenance management . We have aircraft from six different countries — 39 fleets. All these factors have helped us rise to number three. Where we are deficient in terms of numbers and hardware in quantity, we always make up by better quality training and better technology, that is the way we keep up with the neighbours.”

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While speaking on the process of modernisation, the Air Chief Marshal said: “As far as fighter aircraft are concerned, a contract of 83 LCAs (light combat aircraft) was signed last year and their delivery will start from next year. We have decided to procure AMCA (advanced medium combat aircraft) and LCA Mark II. There is also a proposal of Multi Role Fighter Aircraft, MRFA for which we have received RFI (request for information) responses and we will move the case for AON (acceptance of necessity) . As far as transport aircraft are concerned, a contract has been signed for 56 C-295 aircraft and the delivery will start next year. Among weapon systems, the guided weapons and radars, are mostly being procured from Indian sources.”

Earlier, in his address to the passing out cadets, the Air Chief Marshal said: “Warfare is undergoing a fundamental change with the emergence of new technology and radically newer doctrines. India’s security dynamics involve multi-faceted threats and challenges. It would require us to build multi-domain capabilities and execute operations simultaneously and in shortened timeframes. You will need to stay abreast with technological advancements, for which you will have to study, research and analyse. Your quest for knowledge must continue unabated after you pass out from here . As future officers, you must develop an understanding of this complex and dynamic world through the study of military history, geopolitics and international affairs. This can be possible only if you inculcate good reading habits, in the early years of your service career.”

He told the cadets: “You all are joining this noble profession when our country is at the cusp of a technological transformation. All three services have invested heavily in next-generation warfighting machines. You, as future operators of these highly potent systems, need to be fully conversant with them, which can be achieved only through rigorous training, dedication and a professional approach.”

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