IAF to induct more than 150 Sukhois

Last Updated: Wed, Dec 23, 2009 12:26 hrs

Silchar (Assam): The Indian Air Force (IAF) will soon induct more than 150 Sukhoi Su-30 MKI combat jets and 80 Mi-17-1V medium-lift helicopters as part of a massive drive to boost its capabilities, a top military commander said on Wednesday.

"We are getting more than 150 Sukhois. There is also a deal on for 80 medium-lift helicopters from Russia, fifth-generation Russian fighters and special helicopters for flying VVIPs like the president and the Prime Minister," IAF chief Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik told reporters here.

Naik is on a visit to the northeast to oversee facilities and review the airpower capabilities in the region.

He said that irrespective of whether or not there was a threat from its immediate neighbours, India would continue building its airpower capabilities.

"Many more new aircraft would be coming in. There are plans for the next 20 years with India's zone of interest extending from the Strait of Hormuz to the Strait of Malacca. The Indian Air Force should be able to have the capabilities to meet those aspirations," Naik added.

"It doesn't matter what our neighbours (China in this case) do or think. We want to build our own capabilities and make sure we are fully geared up," he pointed out.

The air chief said the eagerly anticipated medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) requirement for at least 126 jets is now in its trials stage.

"That would also be a very valuable addition to the Indian Air Force," Naik said.

The IAF chief said the northeast was a priority area, with the government focusing on upgrading facilities in the region.

"We are upgrading airfields and other facilities here as part of our capability building measures," Naik said.