Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Air Marshall Bhan rules out Chinese threat

SHILLONG, Sept 7: Ruling out the frequently reported Chinese intrusion along the vulnerable Arunachal Pradesh as ‘inadvertent’ the Air Officer Commanding in Chief (AOC-in-C), Eastern Air Command, Air Marshall SK Bhan, told media men today that the so-called incursion has nothing to attract the concern of the Indian Air force.

Elucidating the ground realities by attributing to the borders that have not been clearly demarcated, Bhan said, “These lines cannot be easily defined and at times even our people have gone across”.

“These things can happen and we are not over-anxious”, stated the AOC-in-C, even as he said that the eastern skies are safe and the IAF is prepared to meet any eventuality. Categorical in saying “I do not foresee any requirement to get over-anxious about it”, Bhan also minced words that the media reports have been sensationalized. His statement came in the wake of Chinese assertions in Ladakh two-days ago. It may be mentioned that China has also staked claim on parts of Arunachal Pradesh.

Drawn by the questions on the Indian Air Force complete deployment of the Sukhoi 126 squadron in Tezpur Air base by the third week of October and improvement of Airfield in upper Asom, Bhan was apt in stating that it has nothing to do with any threat perception from China.
“The air strips have to be upgraded because new aircrafts will from this sector after the old ones have been phased out”, stated the Air Marshall. He also said that development of infrastructure is to meet the IAF requirements and has nothing to do with any perceived threat.

Asked about the Air force venture that came at a time when the Indian Army has pushed two additional divisions of armed personnel to Arunachal Pradesh, the AOC-in-C clearly stated that it has nothing to do with the IAF. “The Army has its own assessment to increase its strength, but it has nothing to do with our duty to protect our skies”.

Moreover, since the Sukhois were inducted into Tezpur air base, limited Sukhoi fighter planes are seen, yet the AOC maintained that the formal introduction of the Sukhoi in the eastern sector is not a cosmetic move. “The men and the aircraft will be in place by the third week of October”, stated Bhan, even as he mentioned that out of the 126 fighter planes, a befitting number will be placed in the eastern sector.

Meanwhile, the AOC also said the AN-32 crash in Arunachal was not a foul play, rather it was weather related. THE SENTINEL

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