Lending his support to the Centre’s decision to hike Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) limit in defence sector, Indian Air Force (IAF) chief RKS Bhadauria said on Monday that the decision will have a large impact in supporting Make in India in the military sector.
Talking exclusively to India Today TV, RKS Bhadauria said the force would induct its second squadron of the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft into service in Sulur, Tamil Nadu, by the end of May, even as it is preparing to place orders for over 300 LCA-series fighter jets including the LCA Mark 2, Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft.
“This (74% FDI limit in defence) will have a large impact as far as Make in India is concerned. The 74% FDI limit should be seen with support measures for MSMEs, and the broad directions towards public sector enterprises which have come out in terms of sectoral reforms,” the IAF chief told India Today TV.
He also said that in the next few months, the IAF would be inducting and finalising contracts worth more than Rs 47,000 crore for the LCA Mark 1 and 83 LCA Mark 1A.
“The worth of the squadron coming up in Sulur is around Rs 8,000 crore, while the contract for 83 LCA Mark 1As would be around Rs 39,000 crore,” he said.
Speaking about the future programmes on LCA, Bhadauria said, “We are pushing hard for 83 LCA Mark 1A, that’s our immediate focus area. Within the next quarter, we should be able to sign it. Most of the negotiations have been completed, and I think the ministry is going to move it in a month or so.” He said that over the coming next 30-35 years, the IAF would be inducting more than 450 fighter jets.
The list of aircraft planned to be inducted by the IAF include 36 Rafales, 114 Multirole Fighter Aircraft, 100 Advanced Medium Combat Aircrafts and over 200 variants of the Light Combat Aircrafts. “In the next 15 years, 83 LCAs are our primary focus and after that LCA Mark 2 will come in we are looking at 100 of those, and that will make it near 200 of LCA class,” he said.
On the Kashmir issue, Bhadauria said that Indian armed forces may respond across the border if a terrorist attack on it is linked to Pakistan. “Whenever there is a terrorist attack on our soil, Pakistan should be worried. They have to stop abetting terrorism in India if they have to get out of these worries,” he said when he asked if Pakistan should fear Indian Air Force chief RKS Bhadauria retaliation after Handwara encounter.