Steps taken to protect bases: Browne on threats posed by terrorists
Conscious of threats posed by Pakistan-based terrorists to its bases, IAF chief NAK Browne today said the Air Force has taken all "necessary" steps to protect its assets and stations.
"It is a very valid concern. These kinds of things have happened in our neighbourhood (Pakistan) and in last two years, there have been three such incidents there. We are very conscious of those things and all necessary steps have taken to protect our assets.
"We are extremely vigilant," Browne told reporters at the air base here after the 81st IAF Day parade.
Addressing the parade, he said the assets provided to the force were "expensive and scarce".
"The safety and security of these is our prime responsibility. While ensuring their physical security, there is also an increasing need to ensure security of our communication and information networks," he said.
On the operation against terrorists backed by suspected Pakistani special forces in Keran sector of Jammu and Kashmir, the IAf chief said, "It is a tactical operation. They (the Army) have already killed seven (terrorists).
"Because of the terrain and the situation there we do not want to expose our boys. The good part is that we have not lost any our boys," Browne said.
The Army, he said, is very capable of handling such situations.
Asked about the role of Mi-17V5 choppers in anti-naxal operations, the IAF chief said they would help the security forces to carry out day and night operations.
"The Mi-17V5 gives us a lot of additional capabilities. Nobody should get a feeling that if it is dark and night, no body can reach them," he said.
To a question on precautions being taken by the force to avoid getting hit by naxal firing, Browne said, "What we do is we revise our standard operating procedures.
"We have done a lot of changes in terms of our defence... our communication equipment. We are doing more training so that we do not follow a set pattern. This is showing good results," he said.
Asked if IAF would recommend scrapping of the VVIP chopper tender and start afresh in view of the arbitration clause invoked by AgustaWestland, Browne said the company has filed the case and that would be handled by the Ministries of Defence and Law.
Browne said it would be too premature to state at the stage whether the tender should be cancelled and a new one should be issued by the force.
The IAF chief had recently said the government should take a decision soon on the VVIP choppers issue in view of the phasing out of the present fleet of such helicopters starting next year.
On if IAF's offer to invite Sachin Tendulkar and M S Dhoni to fly in the Su-30MKI combat aircraft was still on, Browne said the both the players were very busy in their cricketing lives and "they have to take a call on this and not us."
"Sachin was supposed to be at the Air House reception today but he had to cancel his visit due to a family function. You see he leads a busy life.
"As and when they want to and express a desire, we will think about that. Right now there is no plan from their or our side," he said.