Gandhinagar: Air Chief Marshal PV Naik
today said that upgrading old Mirage fighter aircraft is a
better option than buying new fighter planes.
When asked why Air Force was spending millions of
dollars in upgrading old Mirages as the moeny could well be
used in buying new Sukhois, Naik said, "When you buy an
(fighter) aircraft it is not only the aircraft that you buy,
you spend money in training people, erecting infrastructure,
logistics, spares supply and life time support."
"The residual life of the 50 odd Mirages that are left
is another 20 years. If I throw them away I have wasted 20
years of that residual life. But upgrading them, with the
infrastructure already available, seems a better option,
considering the life time cost," he added.
Talking about the Air Force`s long-term perspective
planning, Naik said, "Wherever there is residual useful life
left, in any system not only aircraft, we try and upgrade. So
that at least part of that residual life is used. But wherever
there is no residual life left we try and replace."
He further said that when you upgrade an aircraft the
cost is higher than 50 per cent of the original cost.
When asked about the role of Air Force in coastal
security, the Air Chief Marshall said the Indian Navy has
acquired crucial assets for the same purpose.
"For coastal security, fighter aircraft are not
required. For that you require slow moving aircraft which can
have cameras and other sensors," Naik said.
"As far as Air Force is concerned there is one great
asset we can use for coastal security and that is the UAVs
(Unmanned Ariel Vehicles). They are already being used in
areas like Haraminala," he added.
"With more UAVs we can use them more often. They can
remain airborne for longtime. They do not have to come back
and give the information. Whatever they see, hear or locate is
transmitted simultaneously . Hence these become important
assets in coastal areas," Naik added.
He said IAF they had used UAVs in the naxal affected
areas 3-4 years ago. "We have used these in Raipur and
Jagdalpur. But the problem in these areas is that they are
covered by jungles. So, as far as visual clues are concerned,
we can`t get there as there is a thick forest cover."
"However one can get some clues using Infra Red lights
or detect some metals. Also, naxals are very fleeting targets,
so locating them under the jungle cover is very difficult. But
in open areas we can definitely use UAVs more," he added.
Talking about situation at Indo-China border, Naik
said, "There are border problems. Such problems cannot be
solved so fast. How to proceed is the matter for the
government to decide. We are just the military and have to
ensure that the border is secure."