‘IAF capable of offensive anti-Naxal ops’

IAF chief however said a decision on the offensive was in the government`s hands.

New Delhi: IAF chief Air Chief Marshal PV
Naik Monday said the Air Force had the capability for an
offensive operation against the Naxals but a decision on it
was in the government`s hands.

"Use of IAF in an offensive role, I won`t comment...
Possibilities are endless. It is a government decision,
whatever they decide. Capabilities are there, whether to use
them or not is a government decision," he told reporters here.

He was asked if the IAF was reluctant to use its assets
in an offensive role in the anti-Naxal operations being
carried out by the paramilitary forces.

On the IAF`s present role in the operations, Naik said
they were carrying out casualty evacuation, insertion and
exertion of troops and medical evacuation of the troops.

Noting that there was a lot of coordination between the
Defence and the Home Ministries in this regard, he said four
IAF helicopters were currently operating in the Naxal-infested
areas and were deployed in Chhattisgarh.

He said a similar role was being played by the force in
the counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir.

About a year ago, the IAF had sought government`s
permission to fire back at Naxals in self defence, which had
been granted to them following which IAF commandos flew on the
choppers fitted with mounted guns.

The demand had come after one of its personnel was killed
and another injured when an Mi-17 chopper carrying election
officials during Chhattisgarh state assembly polls came under
Naxal fire.