'Action against neighbour speaks volumes about IAF'

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. (PTI Photo)

Amid the rising Indo-Pak tension in the wake of the Centre's decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said the offensive action against “terrorists in the neighbourhood” spoke volumes about the "reach and lethality" of the Indian armed forces.

"We are all aware that the Indian Air Force is a technologically advanced and extremely potent force. The recent offensive strikes against terrorist outfits in our neighbourhood speak volumes about the reach and lethality of the formidable arm of the Indian armed forces," Singh said at an IAF seminar here.

The defence minister's remark is supposed to be referring to the February 26 raid by the IAF on a terror camp in Pakistan's Balakot.

“We have seen their (Pakistan) deployment. IAF is always cautious. We are responsible for air defence and we are always alert,” IAF chief Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa said on the sidelines of the event. “IAF is prepared not only when any enemy fighter comes in but we also keep an eye on civilian aircraft so that incidents like Purulia airdrop don't happen.”

With Singh by his side, Dhanoa also said that a basic version of the MiG (Type-96), which entered the service in 1974-75 will be phased out by September.

"We are still flying MiG-21 which is 44-year old when nobody is driving cars of that vintage. Hopefully, I will fly the last sortie in September, subject to visibility," Dhanoa said.

Even though there is no let-up in the exchange of fire between India and Pakistan after the government repealed Article 370 of the Constitution giving special status to J&K, there are reports of military movement close to the LoC. However, Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat last week described such moves as normal.

In 2016, the Indian Army also launched cross border operations to destroy terror camps across the Line of Control between Indian and Pakistan.

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