Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa addressed a press briefing in Coimbatore on Monday in reference to the Balakot air strike that was undertaken by the Indian Air Force. After the briefing, Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa took questions at a press conference.
Q- Can you explain why Mig-21 Bison was used?
A- Mig 21 Bison is in our inventory why will we not use it? I will not comment on the ongoing operation. Mig 21 Bison is capable and has been upgraded. It is not the old MiG-21 bis. It has got a better weapon system, better radars, better air to air missiles, and radar warning receivers, whatever it takes to make it 3rd generation to 3.5 generation or so. So, this is an upgraded aircraft. We fight with all the aircraft in our inventory. And remember the initiative is with the adversary.
Q- How is Wing Commander Abhinandan's health? How was he treated by the Pakistani Army and will he fly again?
A- Whether he flies again or no depends on his medical fitness. Post-ejection, he has gone a medical check-up. Thereafter, whatever treatment is required will be given to him. Once he gets his medical fitness then only he will get into a fighter cockpit.
Q- In a recent speech, PM Modi said that Rafale fighter could have proved useful in the fight against Pakistan terrorism. What's your take on that?
A- Honourable Prime Minister has made a statement and I will not comment on that.
Q- My question is in regards to the surgical strike. There is still no clarity. Pakistan is still in denial mode. They say there were no attacks on terror camps. What was our target and did we hit our target?
A- The target has been clearly amplified by the foreign secretary in his statement. If we plan to hit the target then we hit the target. Otherwise, why would he have responded? If we have dropped bombs in the jungle then there is no need for him to respond.
Q-How many terrorists did we kill?
A-That statement will be made by the government. Air Force is not in the position to clarify how many people were inside. We do not count human causalities. We count what target have we hit and not hit. The bomb damage assessment that has been done post-mission counts the number of targets we hit and not hit. We can't count how many people have been killed and that depends on the number of people that were inside.
Q- Tejas has been given a certificate recently. Why it took so much time?
A- Tejas had got IOC in 2013 and release to manufacture FOC was given on December 31 in which we said that this is the design and HAL can go ahead and manufacture.
Q- Are we going to give training to women?
A- It depends on which stream she goes to. Right now I think two of them are in MiG-21.
Q- Mid air accidents have been disturbing IAF for a long period. Is there a need to de-commission? When is the induction of Rafale expected?
A- Rafale should come in our inventory in the month of September. And yes we are a plan for inducting new aircraft. That is why we have signed the contract for 36 Rafales. 40 LCLs we have signed the contract. We have to get about one and a half squadron worth of Sukhoi-30 from HAL. In addition, we have issued RFP and have to go to cost negotiating committee and sign a contract for 83 LCLs. There is a plan as to how we take out old aircraft and new aircraft.
Q- Your views on Pakistan violating US agreement on F-16?
A- I don't know what is the agreement between the US and Pakistan. If the agreement was that they will not use it for offensive purposes then they have violated the agreement. We have pieces of AMRAAM missile in our territory which we displayed and I think they lost aircraft against us.
Q- What about Wing Commander Abhinandan fly in the same squadron?
A- It depends on the medical examination. After that everything depends on his fitness. If he is fit to fly in the squadron then he will go back. It depends on his medical recovery. We don't change unit because of that. Ejection is something which takes a lot of toll. We don't take chance with the fitness of a fighter pilot.