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Government to fill gaps in decision-making: Sitharaman to IAF

The government is committed to filling the gaps that arose due to lack of timely decision-making under the previous regime, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday told top IAF commanders in the national capital.

The minister also told the Indian Air Force (IAF) that it should not see budgetary allocations as a constraint and acquire necessary equipment, said an official statement.

The three-day IAF Commanders’ Conference commenced in the national capital on Tuesday and will conclude on October 12. Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre was also present at the conference.

Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa briefed Defence Minister Sitharaman at the conference on the current status of the IAF and the efforts made in the recent past.

In her address, Sitharaman said the devolved powers given to the Service Chiefs should be fully utilised for achieving their capabilities.

The minister said the Air Force, along with the Ordnance Factory Board and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), should make an assessment about indigenisation under “Make in India” programme.

She said the budgetary allocations “should not be viewed as a constraint and should be looked at to acquire what is absolutely necessary” also adding that the government is “committed to fill the gaps which have arisen due to lack of timely decision making in the last decade”.

While addressing the Commanders, Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa emphasised the need for continuous effort and training to maintain IAF’s cutting edge.

The IAF chief also reiterated the force’s role as the first responder in most contingencies and thus the need to sustain the ongoing process of capability enhancement making use of the government’s thrust on Make in India initiative.

The conference over the next two days will see top commanders of the IAF discussing various issues that will decide the future trajectory of the Air Force, including operations, maintenance issues and various administrative initiatives.

In consonance with the government’s “Digital India” initiative, two mobile apps for Air Force Cellular Network (AFCEL) phones called “MEDWATCH” and “AFCHAT” will also be released during the meet.

The new-look Air Force Central Accounts Office (AFCAO) website with enhanced features will also be launched. A book titled “Aero India-Ascent through the Ages” is also scheduled to be released at the conference.