India is planning to set up a Strategic Aerospace Command to prepare for star wars and use space for network-centric warfare in future. Indian Air Force (IAF) Chief Air Marshall S. P. Tyagi said an Aerospace Command has to be established to lay the groundwork to develop capability to degrade space weapons.
He said such a command for futuristic warfare has to be developed with the help and guidance of the country's indigenous space agency. To a question on whether India has developed a nuclear strike capability, the Air Chief, in an interaction with the media at foreign journalists club here, said the country has a "no first use nuclear doctrine" and the IAF is well-prepared to carry out swift retaliation in case of a nuclear attack. "We are a nuclear weapons state. The Government has a declared no first use nuclear policy. IAF is designed to carry out objectives as laid down by the Government in case of nuclear strike," he said.
On the recent controversy on arms deal, Tyagi said it would not affect acquisition of force multipliers like the Multi-role Combat Aircraft, Airborne Early Warning And Control System (AWACS) and the advanced Jet trainers. The government is alive to the fighter force depletion in view of phasing out of Mig-21s, he said. The Air Chief said Government would soon send the Request for Proposals (RFP) for IAF's planned acquisition of 126 Multi-role Combat Aircraft but no timeframe would be given.
"The process is on and the RFP would be sent soon," Tyagi said, indicating that besides the US F-16, Russian upgraded Mig-29, French upgraded Mirage 2000-5 and Swedish Grippen fighters were in the reckoning. He said the Request For Information (RFI) has already been received from the French, Russian, Swedish as well as the US governments. Lockheed Martin and Boeing have been cleared to bid for India's fighter deal, he added. Tyagi said IAF had asked Lockheed Martin for RFI on F-16 Fighting Falcons and not Boeing which was offering twin engined F-18 super hornet.
On the British Aerospace Hawk deal, the Air Chief said the contract had been signed and IAF was expecting delivery of the advanced Jet trainers on schedule. On whether the IAF was happy with the arms acquisition procedures, Tyagi said "left to armed forces, they would like the process to be speeded up" but in a democratic set up arms purchases has to be transparent and according to well laid out procedures which act as safeguards.
On Sino-Pak tie up for manufacture of superior super 7 fighters, the Air Chief said there was no cause for alarm as all these weapon acquisitions factored into the defence plans and suitable counter measures were taken. On the alleged air space violation by Bangladesh, he said the matter was being investigated.