The Indian Air Force will be conducting joint air exercises with its US and British counterparts in November and early next year, Air Chief Marshall S P Tyagi, said today.
The United States Air Force will come here for joint exercises in November this year while the Royal Air Force of Britain will be coming next year," Tyagi, who is on a maiden visit as air chief to Kashmir, said.
In the past, the IAF had held joint exercises in France, South Africa and Singapore showcasing its air capability and other aspects, he said.
In response to a question, Tyagi said he had no information about any plan envisaging air cover for the territorial army during counter-insurgency operations.
"We have been providing logistic support to the forces, but no such instructions have been given so far," he said adding that if orders came, the IAF would carry them out.
"A decision on the issue has to be taken very carefully. We cannot use air strikes in our own areas on our own people," he said referring to the civilian population.
Asked if there were any air space violations on the borders with Pakistan or China, the air chief said "I am not aware of any such instance".
He said that besides being updated on new technologies, the IAF had been busy with disaster management since the tsunami struck the southern areas of the country on December 26 last year.
"Within hours of the tsunami, our flying officers were airborne to carry out relief and rescue operations in Nicobar. Early this year, we had what we call 'white tsunami' in Jammu and Kashmir," Tyagi said.
Over 40,000 people were evacuated from the avalanche-hit areas during one of worst natural calamities in the state. For the first time, the IAF flew fuel tankers to the Valley making special concessions in the flying norms in view of the gravity of the situation, Tyagi said.
He said the air force officers carried out 5,500 hours of flying in assisting the civil administration till date including providing relief during the recent floods which struck many States of the country.
On the plans to carry out special recruitment drives for youth of the State, Tyagi said two drives had been conducted in October last year and May this year. "Let me make it clear that they (Kashmiri youth) are more than welcome," he added.