With the government renewing its thrust on ‘Make in India’ amidst the ongoing fund crunch, the IAF is furiously re-prioritising its modernisation plans. Much more technology-intensive and imports-dependent than the Army & Navy, Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria tells Rajat Pandit that IAF’s major focus is on ‘desi’ fighters and platforms like Tejas rather than `videshi’ ones for now. Excerpts:
Q: The government has capped expenditure due to the Covid-19 pandemic, while the defence budget is also likely to be slashed. How is IAF tackling the situation?
A: The capping of government expenditure will affect us. But we are looking at ways to mitigate the impact by prioritising our critical requirements. We are putting measures in place to curtail our revenue budget by about 20-25%. On capital expenditure, we are looking at reorganising our plans based on actual budget availability.
Q: What is the delay in placing the Rs 37,000 crore order for 83 Tejas Mark-1A fighters with HAL? In the long run, how many Tejas Mark-1 and Mark-2 fighters, as also the proposed indigenous 5th-generation AMCA (advanced medium-combat aircraft), does IAF plan to induct?