Air Force Day Awards 1997

NEW DELHI, Oct. 8, 1997(taken from Hindustan times): Make IAF air and space force: Sareen. Indian Air Force would have to develop into an air and space force as future wars would be won by those who have exploited potential of both these areas for conduct of operations, Air Chief Marshal S. K. Sareen said here today.

In his address at the Air Force Day parade, marking the 65th anniversary of IAF, Air Chief Marshal Sareen exhorted the Force to take note of developed nations where the exploitation of space for conduct of operations in the third dimension has already grown manifold.

"Today they have a pictorial record of every aircraft that moves in or out of our hardened shelters. This record is updated every 24 hours. It would be prudent for us to grow from an Air Force to air and space force and exploit this potential. Future wars would be won by those who have these capabilities," the IAF Chief said.

While declaring that IAF had formalised its modernisation plans for the next century by selectively employing the cutting edge of technology, the Air Chief said: "An investment in a strong air force will imply an investment in peace."

In his speech, Mr Sareen clearly said that air power would play a leading and decisive role in future engagements. He said the strength of a nation would be judged by the deterrence capabilities of its Air Force. This could only be achieved, he added, if the country could retain a technological advantage over its adversaries.

Air Chief Sareen informed that the Government had been supportive of IAF's need and had ensured that its futuristic programmes remained on track. With the addition of airborne command control and surveillance platforms and other such force multipliers, air power had established itself as an all encompassing factor in conflict situations, he said.

Referring to the accidents involving IAF aircraft, Air Chief Sareen said the accident rate last year was the lowest ever in the IAF history in spite of stepped up operational training. However, he maintained that a large number of accidents that occurred were due to manufacturing and maintenance deficiences-beyond the control of IAF.

During the function, the Air Chief presented meritorious and gallantry service medals to 46 officers and men. Prominent among those who attended the investiture ceremony were the Army Chief Gen V. P. Malik, the Navy Chief Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat, senior bureaucrats and military attaches of foreign countries.

Air Force Day was marked by a breathtaking display of low-level manoeuvre, barely at a height of 200 metres, by a Sukhoi-30, the latest acquisition from Russia of IAF. The show had its nostalgic moments as the medium range Canberra bombers and the Hunter fighter participated for the last time in the fly-past. These aircraft had played a crucial role during the 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak conflicts. This was followed by a parade of vintage aircraft, used by the IAF decades ago.